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Entranced by the Factory

Simon Schaffer: Maxwell’s Demon, 29 April 1999

The Natural Philosophy of James Clerk Maxwell 
by P.M. Harman.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £35, April 1998, 0 521 56102 7
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... current scientists and by historians on great scientific figures of the past, from Archimedes to Crick and Watson. I at once suggested Maxwell, not only the acknowledged progenitor of electromagnetic field theory and statistical thermodynamics, but a man of self-mocking humour, whose obiter dicta would well fill thirty minutes’ chat. In vain: a physicist ...

Todd Almighty

Peter Medawar, 16 February 1984

A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist 
by Alexander Todd.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £15, November 1983, 0 521 25593 7
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... was a brilliant place in Todd’s day, the staff including Patrick Blackett, Willis Jackson, Michael Polanyi and the historian L.B. Namier. When the war came, Todd was made chairman of the chemical committee responsible for the development and production of chemical warfare agents. After the war I served under Todd on a committee that had to make ...

What do you mean by a lie?

Steven Shapin: Haeckel’s Embryos, 5 May 2016

Haeckel’s Embryos: Images, Evolution and Fraud 
by Nick Hopwood.
Chicago, 388 pp., £31.50, May 2015, 978 0 226 04694 5
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... of the connection between atomic weight and the periodicity of chemical properties. Watson and Crick took one look at the first jerry-rigged workshop model of double-helical DNA and they saw how the structure might account for both genetic coding and genetic function. There are only a few scientific principles that enjoy both advantages – the ...

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