Science Biographies (2014)

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Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science
Christoph Irmscher

BIOGRAPHY AGASSIZ

Traces the life of the nineteenth-century scientist who discovered how glaciers form, describing how he enlisted the American public to collect natural specimens for his museum and his work training a generation of scientists.


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The Man Who Invented the Computer: The Biography of John Atanasoff, Digital Pioneer
Jane Smiley

BIOGRAPHY ATANASOFF

John Vincent Atanasoff hit on the idea that the binary number system and electronic switches, com¬bined with an array of capacitors on a moving drum to serve as memory, could yield a computing machine that would make his life and the lives of other similarly burdened scientists easier. Then he built the machine. It worked. The whole world changed.


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The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe
Glynis Ridley

BIOGRAPHY BARET

In a deeply researched and engagingly written narrative of science, adventure, love, and an unprecedented voyage of discovery, Ridley reveals the true story of Jeanne Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.


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The Curies: A Biography of the Most Controversial Family in Science
Denis Brian

BIOGRAPHY CURIE

Focusing on the lives and relationships behind their magnificent careers, The Curies is the first biography to trace the entire Curie dynasty, from Pierre and Marie to their two daughters, Irène and Eve, and son-in-law Frederic Joliot-Curie.


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Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science (Great Discoveries)
Lawrence M. Krauss

BIOGRAPHY FEYNMAN

Quantum Man traces the colorful, turbulent life of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, from the death of his childhood sweetheart during the Manhattan Project to his rise as an icon in the scientific community.


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Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind
Kitty Ferguson

BIOGRAPHY HAWKING

While Hawking’s mind roams to the farthest corners of reality, his body has become increasingly trapped by the advance of Lou Gehrig’s disease, which has bound him to a wheelchair, without speech or movement except for a few facial muscles.


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A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change
John Glassie

BIOGRAPHY KIRCHER

Kircher lived during an era of radical transformation, in which the old approach to knowledge was giving way to the scientific method and modern thought. A man of misconceptions traces his rise, his success, and his eventual fall as he attempted to come to terms with a changing world.


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The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom
Simon Winchester

BIOGRAPHY NEEDHAM

In the 1930s Joseph Needham became fascinated with China. He searched everywhere for evidence to bolster his conviction that the Chinese were responsible for hundreds of mankind’s most familiar innovations—including printing, the compass, explosives, suspension bridges, even toilet paper—often centuries before the rest of the world.


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American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
Kai Bird,Martin J. Sherwin

BIOGRAPHY OPPENHEIMER

J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war, and who later found himself confronting the moral consequences of scientific progress.


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The Invention of Air
Steven Johnson

BIOGRAPHY PRIESTLEY

Invention recounts the story of Joseph Priestley—scientist and theologian, protege of Benjamin Franklin—an 18th-century radical thinker who played pivotal roles in the invention of ecosystem science, the founding of the Unitarian Church, and the intellectual development of the U.S.


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Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age
W. Bernard Carlson

BIOGRAPHY TESLA

The flamboyant Nikola Tesla, as famous as Thomas Edison during his heyday, is now remembered largely for his eccentricities and his eponymous science museum staple, the Tesla coil. Here, University of Virginia tech and history professor Carlson sheds light on the man and plenty of his inventions.


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Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor
Hali Felt

BIOGRAPHY THARP

Marie Tharp was given the job of interpreting the soundings (records of sonar pings measuring the ocean’s depths) brought back from the ocean-going expeditions. Her analysis gave birth to a major work: the first comprehensive map of the ocean floor, which laid the groundwork for proving the theory of continental drift.


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Ordinary Geniuses: Max Delbruck, George Gamow, and the Origins of Genomics and Big Bang Cosmology
Gino Segre

SCIENCE SEG

The story of these two great scientists and their long friendship offers an accessible inside look at the people behind the scenes of science—the collaboration and competition, the quirks and failures, the role of intuition and luck, and the sense of wonder and curiosity that keeps these extraordinary minds going.


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The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World
Laura J. Snyder

SCIENCE SNY

Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones began to meet on Sunday mornings to talk about the state of science in Britain and to plot to bring about a new scientific revolution. And to a remarkable extent, they succeeded, even in ways they never intended.


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The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler
Thomas Hager

SCIENCE CHEMISTRY HAG

Together Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch discovered a way to make bread out of air. Their invention continues to feed us today but the process was also used to make high explosives during the two world wars.


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Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac & Other Writings on Conservation and Ecology: (Library of America #238)
Aldo Leopold

SCIENCE NATURE LEO

A pioneering forester, sportsman, wildlife manager, and ecologist, Leopold was also a gifted writer whose farsighted land ethic is proving increasingly relevant in our own time.


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E=mc~2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
David Bodanis

SCIENCE PHYSICS BOD

Bodanis begins by devoting chapters to each of the equation’s letters and symbols, introducing the science and scientists forming the backdrop to Einstein’s discovery. It would prove to be a beacon for many scientists throughout the twentieth century.


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Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian
A. Douglas Stone

SCIENCE PHYSICS STO

Common lore holds that Einstein’s essential contribution to physics is relativity. But in this scholarly and accessible book, A. Douglas Stone argues convincingly that Einstein had a profound impact on the development of quantum theory


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The Last Lecture
Randy Pausch

SPIRIT INSPIR PAU

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.


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