Oxford Dictionary Of Scientific Quotations (Oxford Paperback Reference) (Oxford Quick Reference) Paperback – 8 Jul 2004
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Impressive tome...An excellent reference work but also perfect for browsing
About the Author
W. F. Bynum is Professor Emeritus of the history of medicine at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London. His research has been directed at a number of topics, including the history of psychiatry, the relationship between basic science and medical practice, the history of disease, especially malaria in British India, and the impact of evolutionary biology on medicine. He has edited many books, including (with Janet Browne and Roy Porter) The Macmillan Dictionary of the History of Science (1981), and (with Roy Porter) Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine, 2 vols. (1993). He is the author of Science and the Practice of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century (1994). He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of Edinburgh. Roy Porter was until his retirement Professor of the Social History of Medicine at the Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London. His books include English Society in the Eighteenth Century (1982), Mind Forg'd Manacles (1987), A Social History of Madness (1987), London: A Social History (1994), The Greatest Benefit to Mankind (1997), Enlightenment (2000), Madness: a brief history (2002), and Flesh and the Age of Reason (2003). He died in March 2002.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
True, if you want only zingers, this is not the book for you. Wit alone can give only a superficial view of science. But that is not the object of a reference book. Words can also be spellbinding.
But here, a quotation means the original words of the scientists talking of their own or other discoveries, and such quotes are fascinating. The wider your science education, you will recognize more and more names of the scientists in this compilation. By reading it, you will learn more about the history of science, and find more people that you are glad to hear of, and will care to know their contributions.
For example, in one lengthy quote you can read a description by Humphry Davy of his thrill upon breathing nitrous oxide, early after its discovery. Humphry Davy's name may be unfamiliar, but he was a leading experimental scientist at the Royal Institution and isolated several new elements. Davy nominated the brilliant Michael Faraday as his successor. These are both giants in the progress of chemistry and physics, yet how many high school graduates know their names? (Sad, that.)
On the other hand, there is Francis Arthur Freeth, who is quoted as saying, "I am Freeth, and I have come to apply the phase-rule to the ammonia-soda process." I didn't know who Freeth was. But these were his first words on joining the Brunner-Mond Company in 1907, where he diligently researched the large-scale processes for making ammonium nitrate in the industrial quantities need for explosives. Without his key contribution, Britain would have had a dire shortage of munitions for World War I. He literally helped win the war. Once you realise Freeth was such a hugely important scientist, though in one narrow field, the quote is precient. And I am glad to now know who Freeth was.
Francis and Crick are the household names in the discovery of the structure of DNA, but in this book you can read what Rosalind Franklin, their contemporary, had written as early as 1952 about her work - in her own words - also hinting at the helical structure of DNA.
Thus, if you have a life-long interest in science, this book should be on your shelf. It is unique. You can come back to it many times, and find new gems of insight each time. All of the 8000 quotes in the book are good quotes for this purpose. The book is a gold mine - you discover gold nuggets everywhere, if you have the eyes to see. It complements your knowledge of scientist biographies.
Buy this book.
Definitely buy this book.
"Recommended for public and academic libraries."
It should be added: "Not recommended for individuals."
While there are a handful of great quotes in this book (perhaps 1 in a thousand), most of the quotes are very specific, are not "funny" not "zingers" not witty, not profound, and are just plain dry. There are about 20 good quotes and out of what must be about 8000 quotes in the book. I bought it based on seeing several good quotes given where the book is advertised. Well guess what! Those were half of the good quotes in the book!
Most quotes are from people you haven't heard of and don't care to hear of. Which would be fine, if the quotes were any good - but they are not. Do not buy this book.
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