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The Independent

John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin

He Knew He Was Right

You probably know about the Gaia concept, thinking of the Earth of a living system. He Knew He Was Right: The Irrepressible Life of James Lovelock and Gaia John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin tells the fascinating story of the inventor of this idea.

We learn about Lovelock's early life - he was something of a rebel, but willing to work hard. He also had a fair amount of luck , landing jobs where he could make the most of his inventiveness, devising gas detectors and many other devices. This culminated in him working for NASA in the 1960's on devices to find life on other planets. His method of looking for an atmosphere in a non-equilibrium state led on to the Gaia concept, that it is life which maintains such a state for it's own benefit. This idea was ridiculed at first, but over the following decades has gained in acceptance. The later parts of the book tell of Lovelock's involvement of the environmental movement. He finds global warming very worrying, and is scathing of the Green's belief that technology such as nuclear power shouldn't be used to combat it.

The book is very readable, and will be of interest to those wanting to know more about the what is happening to our biosphere, as well as those wanting to hear about life of this iconic character.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 0691137501
Salesrank: 1994423
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2009 Princeton University Press
Amazon price $7.95
Marketplace:New from $5.58:Used from $5.19
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 264 pages  
ISBN: 1846140161
Salesrank: 81143
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2009 Allen Lane
Marketplace:New from £89.58:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 256 pages  
ISBN: 1846140161
Salesrank: 993947
Weight:1.1 lbs
Published: 2009 Allen Lane
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 148.10:Used from CDN$ 2.51
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Product Description

In 1972, when James Lovelock first proposed the Gaia hypothesis--the idea that the Earth is a living organism that maintains conditions suitable for life--he was ridiculed by the scientific establishment. Today Lovelock's revolutionary insight, though still extremely controversial, is recognized as one of the most creative, provocative, and captivating scientific ideas of our time. James Lovelock tells for the first time the whole story of this maverick scientist's life and how it served as a unique preparation for the idea of Gaia.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with Lovelock himself and unprecedented access to his private papers, John and Mary Gribbin paint an intimate and fascinating portrait of a restless, uniquely gifted freethinker. In a lifetime spanning almost a century, Lovelock has followed a career path that led him from chemistry, to medicine, to engineering, to space science. He worked for the British secret service and contributed to the success of the D-Day landings in World War II. He was a medical experimenter and an accomplished inventor. And he was working with NASA on methods for finding possible life on Mars when he struck upon the idea of Gaia, conceiving of the Earth as a vast, living, self-regulating system.

Deftly framed within the context of today's mounting global-warming crisis, James Lovelock traces the intertwining trajectories of Lovelock's life and the famous idea it brought forth, which continues to provoke passionate debate about the nature and future of life on our planet.