Leslie Alan Horvitz


We've all heard the story of Archimedes leaping from his bath. In Eureka Leslie Alan Horvitz tells about similar moments for a dozen scientists and inventors, although I have to say that in fact the book suggests that discoveries are not made via Eureka moments. Those that come closest - Newton's apples and Kekule's snakes catching their own tails - are most likely to be myths. Instead we see the great variety of processes by which these people came to their discoveries. All of the chapters are well written and despite a few quibbles the book is well worth reading - as long as you don't believe the title.

Sometimes there was fair degree of chance, such as Fleming's discovery of penicillin. Likewise Joseph Priestley was apparently was just curious about what would happen if he heated mercuric oxide, and so discovered oxygen. Often however, it was more a case of years of struggle rather that instant insight. Darwin held off publication of the theory of evolution for many years. Wegener didn't have his ideas of continental drift accepted in his lifetime. And Einstein struggled for years with the ideas of General Relativity. The final two chapters describe the DNA story of Watson and Crick and the work of Benoit Mandelbrot on Fractals.

Product Description
The common language of genius: Eureka!
While the roads that lead to breakthrough scientific discovery can be as varied and complex as the human mind, the moment of insight for all scientists is remarkably similar. The word "eureka!", attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, has come to express that universal moment of joy, wonder-and even shock-at discovering something entirely new. In this collection of twelve scientific stories, Leslie Alan Horvitz describes the drama of sudden insight as experienced by a dozen distinct personalities, detailing discoveries both well known and obscure. From Darwin, Einstein, and the team of Watson and Crick to such lesser known luminaries as fractal creator Mandelbrot and periodic table mastermind Dmitri Medellev, Eureka! perfectly illustrates Louis Pasteur's quip that chance favors the prepared mind. The book also describes how amateur scientist Joseph Priestley stumbled onto the existence of oxygen in the eighteenth century and how television pioneer Philo Farnsworth developed his idea for a TV screen while plowing his family's Idaho farm.