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The Making of Modern Science: Science, Technology, Medicine and Modernity: 1789-1914 (PHSS - Polity History of Science series) [Hardcover]

David M. Knight
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Book Description

1 Nov 2009 PHSS - Polity History of Science series (Book 1)
Of all the inventions of the nineteenth century, the scientist is one of the most striking. In revolutionary France the science student, taught by men active in research, was born; and a generation later, the graduate student doing a PhD emerged in Germany. In 1833 the word ‘scientist’ was coined; forty years later science (increasingly specialised) was a becoming a profession. Men of science rivalled clerics and critics as sages; they were honoured as national treasures, and buried in state funerals. Their new ideas invigorated the life of the mind. Peripatetic congresses, great exhibitions, museums, technical colleges and laboratories blossomed; and new industries based on chemistry and electricity brought prosperity and power, economic and military. Eighteenth–century steam engines preceded understanding of the physics underlying them; but electric telegraphs and motors were applied science, based upon painstaking interpretation of nature. The ideas, discoveries and inventions of scientists transformed the world: lives were longer and healthier, cities and empires grew, societies became urban rather than agrarian, the local became global. And by the opening years of the twentieth century, science was spreading beyond Europe and North America, and women were beginning to be visible in the ranks of scientists. Bringing together the people, events, and discoveries of this exciting period into a lively narrative, this book will be essential reading both for students of the history of science and for anyone interested in the foundations of the world as we know it today.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (1 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745636756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745636757
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,968,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Knight loves science and he loves history. This work is a splendid example of how to communicate that enthusiasm." British Journal for the History of Science "A fine synthesis, the fruit of a lifetime′s study and reflection, which should prompt some readers to begin a lifetime study of their own." Times Higher Education "A superb history of the discipline." The Diplomat "A magisterial survey. For anyone who has experienced the delight of hearing Knight deliver a public lecture, reading this will summon up his mellifluous voice as though he were standing in the same room." Metascience "Replete with insight and astute synthesis. It conveys the excitement of science and of its history." Social History of Medicine "Knight ably discusses the various threads in this complex story, his description of the people and events which shaped the scientific developments are always interesting, and his interpretation of the philosophical and cultural changes are always insightful. Knight has a lot to offer any reader interested in how the profession established itself as one for skilled minds ... This book is well researched and well written and is to be recommended to anyone interested in how science and scientists emerged in the 20th century." Chemistry World "The book is replete with insight and astute synthesis. It conveys the excitement of science and of its history." Social History of Medicine "David Knight has long delighted his readers with books on the history of science that have been both instructive and entertaining. Here he draws on a lifetime′s study to explain how science – as a practical, intellectually challenging, and socially diverse activity – gained its cultural importance in the long nineteenth–century. Warmly recommended." John Hedley Brooke, Andreas Idreos Professor Emeritus of Science & Religion, University of Oxford "David Knight′s latest book is a glittering magnum opus in which he describes the professionalization of science by drawing on examples from various disciplines. The writing is erudite, lucid and upbeat. The book is a social history, an institutional history and an internal history all in one, and it is gratifying to see chemistry assuming a rather central position in the story." Eric Scerri, author of The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance "This book is a pleasure to read: light in style, yet incisive, informative, and even profound. With a few well–chosen words Knight can conjure up a Huxley or a Faraday, or explain the problems scientists faced in understanding the variety of human ′races′. His explanations of scientific issues go to the heart of the matter and are never weighed down with detail. I can′t think of a better or more rounded introduction to the history of nineteenth–century science." Geoffrey Cantor, University of Leeds  

From the Back Cover

Of all the inventions of the nineteenth century, the scientist is one of the most striking. In revolutionary France the science student, taught by men active in research, was born; and a generation later, the graduate student doing a PhD emerged in Germany. In 1833 the word ‘scientist’ was coined; forty years later science (increasingly specialised) was a becoming a profession. Men of science rivalled clerics and critics as sages; they were honoured as national treasures, and buried in state funerals. Their new ideas invigorated the life of the mind. Peripatetic congresses, great exhibitions, museums, technical colleges and laboratories blossomed; and new industries based on chemistry and electricity brought prosperity and power, economic and military. Eighteenth–century steam engines preceded understanding of the physics underlying them; but electric telegraphs and motors were applied science, based upon painstaking interpretation of nature. The ideas, discoveries and inventions of scientists transformed the world: lives were longer and healthier, cities and empires grew, societies became urban rather than agrarian, the local became global. And by the opening years of the twentieth century, science was spreading beyond Europe and North America, and women were beginning to be visible in the ranks of scientists. Bringing together the people, events, and discoveries of this exciting period into a lively narrative, this book will be essential reading both for students of the history of science and for anyone interested in the foundations of the world as we know it today.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of science in the 19th century 7 Jun 2010
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Making of Modern Science by David Knight, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, 2009, 384 ff.

The history of science in the nineteenth century
By Howard Jones

The author of this book is an Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Durham University so, as a historian, he writes with authority of some of the social and technological consequences of the scientific discoveries made during the 19th century and changes in the public attitude towards science during this period. Indeed, there was no such thing as a `scientist' until 1833, when the word first appeared (The OED gives the date as 1840). Previously it was a hobby pursued by dilettantes but in the 19th century it became a respected profession. Knight explains how gifted individuals who formerly would have turned to law, medicine or the church as a profession now decided to investigate the natural world for their living.

This was the age when the different disciplines within science developed, but no sooner had they done so than connections between the scientific areas were sought and found - Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell uniting electricity and magnetism, Benjamin Thomson (Count Rumford) forging links between heat energy and mechanical work and, early in the following century, Albert Einstein showing the relation between matter and energy.

Something of the shock waves experienced by the religiously devout when the ideas of Charles Lyell in geology and Charles Darwin in biology were published is described but there seemed to be as many supporters as detractors for the new ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of science in the 19th century 18 July 2012
By Dr. H. A. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Making of Modern Science by David Knight, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, 2009, 384 ff.

The author of this book is an Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Durham University so, as a historian, he writes with authority of some of the social and technological consequences of the scientific discoveries made during the 19th century and changes in the public attitude towards science during this period. Indeed, there was no such thing as a `scientist' until 1833, when the word first appeared (The OED gives the date as 1840). Previously it was a hobby pursued by dilettantes but in the 19th century it became a respected profession. Knight explains how gifted individuals who formerly would have turned to law, medicine or the church as a profession now decided to investigate the natural world for their living.

This was the age when the different disciplines within science developed. No sooner had they done so than connections between the scientific areas were sought and found - Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell uniting electricity and magnetism, Benjamin Thomson (Count Rumford) forging links between heat energy and mechanical work and, early in the following century, Albert Einstein showing the relation between matter and energy.

Something of the shock waves experienced by the religiously devout when the ideas of Charles Lyell in geology and Charles Darwin in biology were published is described but there seemed to be as many supporters as detractors for the new ideas. Other scientific revolutions included Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination, Louis Pasteur's germ theory and Alexander Fleming's subsequent discovery of antibiotics, the introduction of anaesthetics for life-saving surgery, and the technological advances in public health. In Knight's view, these may have done more than the discoveries of Lyell or Darwin to alter religious viewpoints, as the extended life-span of both young and old was now to some extent under human control and not totally subject to the will of an unfathomable God. Crucially, science now became the arbiter of truth rather than scripture.

This is an excellent book - detailed, scholarly and academic, well researched and eloquently written but I suspect that general readers will find the level of writing rather heavy going unless they are specifically interested in how science developed during the 19th century. Now that the history of science has virtually disappeared from secondary school syllabuses under the weight of the new topics added, for those of us who teach science the book presents a fascinating story.

Watch on the Heath Science & Religion By Keith Thomson
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