"The facts, even the theories, are history. It is the process
that is the living science; that's what makes the activity exciting to those who practice it," science writer Hal Hellman observes. "Often, however, the process of scientific discovery is charged with emotion.... Holders of an earlier idea may not give it up gladly." Hellman describes some of the most emotional, dramatic, and personal debates in scientific history. He rounds up the usual suspects--Galileo versus the pope, Newton versus Leibniz, Cope versus Marsh, evolution versus Creation--but also includes less well known, but no less interesting, conflicts: Wallis versus Hobbes on squaring the circle, Voltaire versus Needham on embryos. And he boldly includes two conflicts in which (some) of the combatants are still alive: Don Johanson versus the Leakeys on human origins and Derek Freeman versus the ghost of Margaret Mead on Samoa. Never a dull moment. --Mary Ellen Curtin
From Library Journal
Ranging from Galileo vs. Pope Urban VIII to Derek Freeman vs. Margaret Mead, this compilation of great scientific feuds covers an interesting variety of personalities as well as subject matter. Proceeding in chronological order, chapter by chapter, science writer Hellman aims to show the human side of scientists, including all their petty frailties. Some of the feuds were more constructive than others; some seemed to center on personality clashes; collectively, they demonstrate that over the centuries science has shown little ability to acknowledge changing interpretations or newly calculated data without falling into conflict. Hellman certainly raises some questions on style in science, but it would have been even more worthwhile if he had tried to derive some theme from these confrontations instead of simply demonstrating that scientists can be just as human as the rest of us. For larger popular science collections.?Hilary Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., Livermore, CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.