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It doesn't take a rocket scientist : great amateurs of science

Author: John Williams Malone
Publisher: Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, ©2002.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
It Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist examines the lives and work of ten amateur scientists whose investigations yielded insights and discoveries that eluded their highly educated counterparts. Some of their names are among the most revered in the history of science; others have been all but forgotten, in spite of their achievements. What did giants of science Gregor Mendel and Joseph Priestley have in common with  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Biography
Biographies
Material Type: Biography, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: John Williams Malone
ISBN: 9780471414315 047141431X
OCLC Number: 50301072
Description: vii, 232 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: The father of genetics / Gregor Johann Mendel --
Comet hunter / David H. Levy --
Cepheid star deccoder / Henrietta Swan Leavitt --
Discoverer of oxygen / Joseph Priestley --
Electromagnetic lawgiver / Michael Faraday --
Father of radio astromony / Grote Reber --
Communications satellite visionary / Arthur C. Clarke --
First modern archaeologist / Thomas Jefferson --
Dinosaur hunter / Susan Hendrickson --
Bacteriophages discoverer / Felix d'Herelle.
Responsibility: John Malone.
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Abstract:

It Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist examines the lives and work of ten amateur scientists whose investigations yielded insights and discoveries that eluded their highly educated counterparts. Some of their names are among the most revered in the history of science; others have been all but forgotten, in spite of their achievements. What did giants of science Gregor Mendel and Joseph Priestley have in common with virtual unknowns such as Henrietta Swan Leavitt and Grote Reber? They were all amateurs, untrained or undertrained researchers who often toiled in obscurity, but whose dramatic discoveries opened new pathways to a deeper understanding of nature. You'll meet the man who built the world's first radio telescope in his backyard; the woman whose astute observation led to the proof that there are untold numbers of galaxies in the universe; and the self-taught bacteriologist who laid the groundwork for the discovery of DNA. You may be surprised to learn that, between political battles and architectural projects, Thomas Jefferson carried out the very first scientific archaeological excavation, establishing methods that are now standard practice in the field. Likewise, in his youth, famed science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote a technical paper introducing ideas that would eventually lead to a communications revolution. This unique and offbeat look at the history of science sheds light on the nature of scientific investigation: Does the self-taught scientist actually have advantages over the professional? Are there particular qualities of mind that enable amateurs to succeed in spite of their lack of formal training? How large a role did luck play in these momentous discoveries and achievements? Whether you're a dedicated amateur scientist or an avid science reader, It Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist will delight and surprise you with little-known details about the work and insights of these self-taught scientists. And, with its discussion of fields in which amateur scientists can still make a name for themselves, it may even give you some ideas for making a great discovery of your own. Did you know that the woman who discovered the largest and most complete T. rex fossil on record was a high-school dropout who became one of the world's greatest fossil hunters? That the great British scientist Michael Faraday was the son of a blacksmith and had very little formal education? That Gregor Mendel had time to study inherited traits in garden peas because he failed the test to qualify as a high school science teacher? This is just a small sampling of the many surprises you'll find in this enlightening survey of the mavericks, misfits, and unschooled investigators who have been responsible for some of the greatest scientific discoveries in history. It Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist explains the achievements of each of these accomplished amateurs, describes how they approached their investigations, and discusses the impact of their discoveries. In these amazing and inspiring stories, you'll learn about: Grote Reber and the birth of radio astronomy; Arthur C. Clarke's vision of communication satellites; Joseph Priestley and the discovery of oxygen; Felix d'Herelle's pinpointing of bacteriophages, killers of bacteria; Thomas Jefferson and the science of archaeology. You'll also discover which fields of science still offer great opportunities for modern amateurs eager to make a name for themselves. After all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist!

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