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BOOK REVIEWS Galileo 's Commandment. Edited by Edmund Blair Bolles. New York: W. H. Freeman . 485 pages, $26.95. (1997) The sub-dtle of this volume is "An Anthology of Great Science Writing." The book consists of three parts, ten chapters, sixty essays. An anthology is a collection of selected writings by different authors chosen according to a theme. The theme ofthis volume is "Scientific Imagination." Bolles states: "Just as other literary imaginations take many forms, scientific imaginations follow many drummers. This book is organized to show off the diversity of scientific imagination, the engine that propels science . . ." Bolles goes on: "I have organized the book to show how understanding progresses from bafflement to mastery. The book has three parts: an opening section in which scientists try to understand science, a long middle section in which readers see the many ways that scientific imaginations try to understand nature , and a third section in which writers transform scientific efforts into literary achievements." Specifically, the three parts are: "The Scientific Imagination Examined ," "The Scientific Imagination in Action," and "The Style in Scientific Imagination ." Each of these parts starts with a preamble by the editor. In turn each essay starts with an introduction of its author by Bolles. The editor tells us that the title of the book derives from Bertolt Brecht's play, The Life of Galileo, wherein the Galileo says, "Science knows only one commandment: contribute to science." There are three chapters in the first part. The first is entitled: "Every Real Problem Can and Will Be Solved" and it includes four essays by Asimov, Eddington, Mach, and John B. Watson. The second chapter is entitled "Language of the Sort That Would Have Attracted Gilbert and Sullivan." The essayists here are: Popper, McPhee, Butterfield, and Piaget. The third chapter is entitled "The Actual Limits of What is Known," and includes the writings of Gould, Chomsky, and Bacon. Part two includes six chapters all dealing with scientific imagination in action. The authors are grouped into these six chapters as follows: Chapter four gives us the writings of Galileo, da Vinci, Darwin, Schaller; Herodotus, de Saussure. Chapter five includes essays by Maxwell, Duncan, Pavlov, Cannon. Chapter six contains writings by Boyle, Newton, Hooke, Curie (Marie), Wegener, Rutherford, Watson (James) , Sullivan, Smoot. In chapter seven we find: Kepler, Voltaire, Huxley, Bateson , Bolles himself, Russell, Oppenheimer. In chapter eight are essays by. Jeans, Bardett, Allport, Hoyle, Eiseley, Heisenberg, Feynman, Harrison, Wolf, Pagels, Davies , and in chapter nine we find Lavoisier, Wallace, von Helmholtz, and Einstein. Part Three concentrates on style and is entitled: "Style in Scientific Imagination." It consists of one chapter, the tenth in this volume. The authors represented here are: Galileo (A second time, but well deserved), Lucretius, Haldane, Julian Huxley, Carson, Young, Young, Preston, and Primo Levi. 452 Book Reviews The editor indicates that the various chapters represent general science, astronomy , biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and psychology. The earliest essay is that of Herodotus and goes back to ca. 444 B.C. The most recent one is by George Smoot and dates to 1994. I found the selection spotty and I missed certain works. Contrary to the editor's stated rejection (p. xvi) of the beauty of science, selected writings of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and also Peter Debye on the beauty of new theories as a test for their validity should have been included. Please note that these do not constitute "interfaces" between fields, but a methodology practiced by these two Nobelists. The choice of the essays disappointed me in a different sense. Selections from the recent literature on molecular and cell biology, the spirited debates on the brain-mind interaction, and last but not least that vast field of complexity and selforganization are missing. Yet these are fields where some of the most exciting research is being pursued, and where there already exists some excellent writing. In the area ofscience and mathematics one of the earliest compilations wasJames R. Newman's The World ofMathematics (1956), New York: Simon & Schuster. I obtained a copy when it was published and I still make reference to it as do many others. The anthology reviewed here probably will not be sought as a reference but is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 452-453
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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