Ben Franklin stilled the waves: an informal history of pouring oil on water with reflections on the ups and downs of scientific life in general

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Duke University Press, 1989 - Biography & Autobiography - 227 pages
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Benjamin Franklin was the first to report the phenomenon of oil's power to still troubled waters and to speculate on why it happened. A century later Lord Rayleigh performed an identical experiment. Irving Langmuir did it with minor variations in 1917, and won a Nobel Prize for it. ThenLangmuir's work was followed by a Dutch pediatrician's in 1925. p Each experimenter saw a little more in the result than his predecessor had seen, and the sciences of physics, chemistry and biology have all been illuminated by the work. p Charles Tanford reflects on the evolving nature of scienceand of individual scientists. Recounting innovations in each trial, he follows the classic experiment from Franklin's drawing room to our present-day institutionalized scientific establishments and speculates on the ensuing changes in our approach to scientific inquiry.

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The World Outside
Two Benjamin Franklin
First Mission to London

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About the author (1989)

Charles Tanford is Emeritus Professor at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA and a former Guggenheim Fellow. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and lives in Easingwold, UK.

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