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Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
Danny Hillis, dark matter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, retrograde motion, short selling, the scientific method, trade route, urban planning
Kéroualle had relayed this to the King during some sort of Natural-Philosophic pillow talk, and his majesty had commissioned four Fellows of the Royal Society (the Duke of Gunfleet, Roger Comstock, Robert Hooke, and Christopher Wren) to find out if such a thing were really possible. They had asked one John Flamsteed. Flamsteed was the same age as Daniel. Too sickly to attend school, he had stayed home and taught himself astronomy. Later his health had improved to the point where he’d been able to attend Cambridge and learn what could be taught there, which was not much, at the time. When he had received this inquiry from the aforementioned four Fellows of the Royal Society, he had been just finishing up his studies, and looking for something to do. He had shrewdly written back saying that the proposal of the Sieur de St.
Follow the sound of grinding gears ‘til you come to America’s smallest and smokiest dwelling—” “Sir, you are a learned and clear-minded gentleman,” says the Don. “If your errand has aught to do with Philosophy, then is not Harvard College a more fitting destination?” “Mr. Root is a Natural Philosopher of note, sir!” blurts Ben, only as a way to prevent himself bursting into tears. The way he says it makes it clear he thinks the Harvard men are of the Unnatural type. “He is a Fellow of the Royal Society!” Oh, dear. The Don steps forward and hunches his shoulders like a conspirator. “I beg your pardon, sir, I did not know.” “It is quite all right, really.” “Dr. Waterhouse, you must be warned, has fallen quite under the spell of Herr Leibniz—” “—him that stole the calculus from Sir Isaac—” someone footnotes. “—yes, and, like Leibniz, is infected with Metaphysickal thinking—” “—a throwback to the Scholastics, sir—notwithstanding Sir Isaac’s having exploded the old ways through very clear demonstrations—” “—and labors now, like a possessed man, on a Mill—designed after Leibniz’s principles—that he imagines will discover new truths through computation!”
The crockery and other clues suggest that the ship’s a good three decades old, but unless you go down into the hold and view the keel and the ribs, you don’t see any pieces that are older than perhaps five years. None of the plates match, and so it’s always a bit of a game for Daniel to eat his way down through the meal (normally something stewlike with expensive spices) until he can see the pattern on the plate. It is kind of an idiotic game for a Fellow of the Royal Society to indulge in, but he doesn’t introspect about it until one evening when he’s staring into his plate, watching the gravy slosh with the ship’s heaving (a microcosm of the Atlantic?), and all of a sudden it’s— The Plague Year SUMMER 1665 Th’earths face is but thy Table; there are set Plants, cattell, men, dishes for Death to eate. In a rude hunger now hee millions drawes Into his bloody, or plaguy, or sterv’d jawes.
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise
Banks demonstrated his energy and commitment on this expedition, earning the approval of all the naval officers, including his friend Captain Constantine John Phipps, and a certain Lieutenant James Cook, who was in charge of chart-making. He wrote witty, faintly scurrilous letters to his sister Sophia, and also kept the first of his great journals, most notable for their racy style, appalling spelling and non-existent punctuation. On his return in November 1766, with a vast quantity of plant specimens (and some caoutchouc from Portugal), Banks was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, still aged only twenty-three. He began what was to become his famous herbarium, scientific library and collection of prints and drawings. His rapidly expanding circle of scientific friends included the rakish Lord Sandwich, future head of the Admiralty, and the quiet, portly and dedicated Daniel Solander, a young Swedish botanist, trained under Linnaeus at Uppsala, who managed the Natural History section of the British Museum.
Caroline never commented on this, although it seems clear that she was present during the critical nights of measuring between 21 March and 6 April 1781. The effect of this account was to present an engagingly romantic image of science at work: the solitary man of genius pursuing the mysterious moment of revelation. Joseph Banks’s presentation speech, when awarding the prestigious Copley Gold Medal for the best work in any scientific field during the year 1781, in front of the assembled Fellows of the Royal Society, was unreservedly complimentary to Herschel. The discovery of the new planet was the first great success of Banks’s new presidency. In his most expansive and jovial mood, he accordingly projected a visionary future for Herschel’s astronomy: ‘Your attention to the improvement of telescopes has already amply repaid the labour which you bestowed upon them; but the treasures of heaven are well known to be inexhaustible.
I think I suffered from a kind of cosmological vertigo, the strange sensation that I might fall down the telescope tube into the night and be drowned. Eventually this passed. The great Edwin Hubble used to describe an almost trance-like, Buddhist state of mind after a full night’s stellar observation at Mount Wilson in California in the 1930s. See Gale Christianson, Edwin Hubble (1995). ♣ Dr James Lind (1736-1812) was no ordinary physician. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he had been invited to accompany Captain Cook on his second voyage round the world, but instead visited Iceland with Banks, and later voyaged to China. Deeply read in classical sciences-an expert on Pliny and Lucretius-he became a physician to the royal household, and taught modern sciences part-time at Eton. He was renowned for his eccentricity and kindness. One of his last pupils was Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was delighted by his radical talk of Franklin, Lavoisier, Herschel, Davy and Godwin.
The system of the world by Neal Stephenson
bank run, British Empire, cellular automata, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, high net worth, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, large denomination, place-making, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade
“I no longer believe in it.” “Well, now is a fine time to say so,” said Saturn. “What’s the new hypothesis?” “That the buyer is a Fellow of the Royal Society, or else has made a close study of the Society’s early years. He knows a great deal about Hooke and about the Real Character, and…” Daniel paused. “And?” “And about poison,” Daniel said. “An attempt was recently made on the life of Princess Caroline. The weapon was a poniard smeared with nicotine, excellently prepared.” “Bloody peculiar,” reflected Peter Hoxton, “when this benighted world doth so abound in simpler means of killing.” “During the ’sixties—Hooke’s heyday, and the aera of the Real Character—several Fellows of the Royal Society took an interest in nicotine.” “It’s obvious then, isn’t it?” Saturn said. “What is obvious?” “The villain must be Sir Christopher Wren!”
John Comstock, though wedded to many of the old ways, was also a forward-thinking Natural Philosopher, who introduced the manufacture of gunpowder to England, and whose great distinction it was to serve as the first President of the Royal Society. During the Plague Year he succoured them as well, by offering them refuge on his estate at Epsom, where discoveries too many to list were made by John Wilkins, by the late Robert Hooke, and by him who stands at my right hand: Dr. Daniel Waterhouse, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Chancellor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute of Technologickal Arts. Dr. Waterhouse has very recently re-crossed the Atlantic and is even now on his way to London to confer with Sir Isaac Newton…” The mention of Daniel’s name caused a sparse ripple of curiosity to propagate through the company of cold, irritable Gentlemen. The mention of Isaac’s created a sensation. Daniel suspected this had less to do with Isaac’s invention of the calculus than with the fact that he was running the Mint.
“During the Plague Year I tutored this man’s father, the young Charles Comstock, in Natural Philosophy, and we spent many hours studying the compression and rarefaction of gases in the engines conceived by Mr. Boyle, and perfected by Mr. Hooke; the lesson was not lost on young Charles; two score years later he passed it on to young Will at their farm in Connecticut, and it was my very great pleasure to visit them there, from time to time, and to witness those lessons being taught so perfectly that no Fellow of the Royal Society could have added what was wanting, nor subtracted what was false. Will took up those lessons well. Fate returned him to England. Providence supplied him with a lovely Devonshire wife. The Queen gave him an Earldom. But it was Fortune, I believe, that brought him together with the Engineer, Mr. Newcomen. For in the Engine that Newcomen has fabricated at Lostwithiel, the seed that was planted at Epsom during the Plague, England’s darkest hour, has flourished into a tree, whose branches are now bending ’neath the burgeoning weight of green Fruit; and if you would care to eat of it, why, all you need do is water that Tree a little, and presently the apples shall fall into your hands.”
Berlin Wall, British Empire, David Attenborough, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Etonian, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of gunpowder, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, New Urbanism, Ralph Waldo Emerson, stakhanovite, Stephen Hawking, Ted Kaczynski, trade route
Once this activity became too humdrum for him, she said, he further occupied himself by translating the selfsame pages from English into French, also in his head, and then correcting any errors that he fancied he could also see in this new translated text. And there was more than merely the pride of achievement. The publication of the three volumes made virtually certain the honor that would be bestowed on Needham a decade later: in 1941 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, arguably the greatest scientific distinction short of a Nobel prize.4 His writing of a scientific classic while he was still so young a man and so untutored a researcher was something that the graybeards of the Royal Society found wholly commendable, and impossible to overlook—but that some also envied, mightily. Now that Joseph and Dorothy were married and settled and had established their sexually liberal style of living, it was time for this deeply religious pair to find a church to accommodate them.
He had no idea just who “in high quarters” had come up with the idea, but it now appears that the request had an unlikely origin: the great scholar Sir George Sansom, an expert on Japan. At the time, Sansom was the senior civilian representative on a little-known body, the Far East War Council, which was based in Singapore and essentially decided how Britain should best prosecute its side of the conflict in the world east of Suez. It was probably Sansom’s suggestion that Needham, a Chinese-speaking fellow of the Royal Society, and a senior figure who was intimately connected with British scientific research, should be the one to go; further, it was likely that this decision would have been approved at a higher level still—quite possibly in Downing Street, by Winston Churchill. It had been agreed, said Crowther over a lunch in London a few days later, that by living in and visiting learned institutions all across “free China,” Needham could find out exactly what was wanted by the Chinese—textbooks, laboratory equipment, reagents, visiting experts—find out where it was wanted, and have whatever could be sent, sent.
At the monastery they were introduced to and then had lunch with a group that included a “living buddha,” three itinerant Tibetan monks dressed in russet red robes, some rather sobersided Chinese monks kitted out in black, and the Australian ambassador to China, Sir Frederick Eggleston, who happened to be nearby, and hungry. Needham said he found it rather amusing that so austere a community was suddenly invaded by an antipodean diplomat and a fellow of the Royal Society, but imagined later that the monks had been less impressed than he, and had taken it all with properly spiritual equanimity. Later that day he and Eggleston went to a teahouse and sat outside in the sun chatting idly about the beauty of their situation. It was perfectly safe for them to do so. Long gone were the days when foreigners were subject to the kind of vilification and hostility that had marked Boxer times: in the 1940s the very few lao-wais who journeyed into the Chinese heartland were greeted with great warmth, the only inconvenience being, then as today, the occasionally overfriendliness of popular curiosity.
bioinformatics, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double helix, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, full text search, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, linear programming, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, p-value, placebo effect, prediction markets, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, speech recognition, statistical model, stochastic process, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War
Lindley became known as a modern-age revolutionary. He fought to get Bayesians appointed, professorship by professorship, until the United Kingdom had a core of ten Bayesian departments. Eventually, Britain became more sympathetic to the method than the United States, where Neyman maintained Berkeley as an anti-Bayesian bunker. Still, the process left scars: despite Lindley’s landmark contributions he was never named a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1977, at the age of 54, Lindley forsook the administrative chores he hated and retired early. He celebrated his freedom by growing a beard and becoming what he called “an itinerant scholar” for Bayes’ rule.33 Thanks to Lindley in Britain and Savage in the United States, Bayesian theory came of age in the 1960s. The philosophical rationale for using Bayesian methods had been largely settled.
Journ@l électronique d’Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique/Electronic Journal of History of Probability and Statistics. (2:2) www.jehps.net. Clerke, Agnes Mary. (1911) Laplace. Encyclopaedia Britannica (16) 200–203. Cochran WM. (1976) Early development of techniques in comparative experimentation. In On the History of Statistics and Probability, ed., DB Owen. Marcel Dekker. 1–26. Cook, Alan. (1990) Sir Harold Jeffreys, 2 April 1891–18 March 1989. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (36) 302–33. Crépel, Pierre. (1993) Henri et la droite de Henry. MATAPLI (36) 19–22. Dale, Andrew I. (1999) A History of Inverse Probability from Thomas Bayes to Karl Pearson. 2d ed. Springer. One of the foundational works in the history of probability. Daston, Lorraine J. (1987) The domestication of risk: mathematical probability and insurance 1650–1830. In The Probabilistic Revolution I, eds., L Krüger, L Daston, M Heidel-berger.
., Peter Harmon, Simon Mitton. Cambridge University Press. Hosgood, Steven. http://tallyho.bc.nu/~steve/banburismus.html. Kahn, David. (1967) The Codebreakers: The Story of Secret Writing. Macmillan. A classic. Kendall, David G. (1991a) Kolmogorov as I remember him. Statistical Science (6:3) 303–12. ———. (1991b) Andrei Nikolaevich Kolmogorov. 25 April 1903–20 October 1987. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. (37) 300–319. Kolmogorov, Andrei N. (1942) Determination of the center of scattering and the measure of accuracy by a limited number of observations. Izvestiia Akademii nauk SSSR. Series Mathematics (6) 3–32. In Russian. Kolmogorov AN, Hewitt E. (1948) Collection of Articles on the Theory of Firing. Rand Publications. Edited by Kolmogorov and translated by Hewitt. Koopman, Bernard Osgood. (1946) OEG Report No. 56, Search and Screening.
The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton
agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
In 1662, for example, John Graunt published the numbers dying in London, the cause of death and his estimate of their age at death. From these he produced the first calculations of life expectancy for different age groups, and so the first reliable figures which could provide a basis for pricing life insurance. He lived in a new world of statistical accuracy. It was from the scientists, from men like William Petty, a first-generation fellow of the Royal Society, who surveyed Ireland, that Gregory King, a government administrator, effectively an accountant, acquired the conceptual tools that enabled him to calculate (very approximately) what we would call the Gross National Product of Britain and France in 1696 in order to work out which had the greater resources for winning the war they were fighting. (King’s enterprise involved calculating not just the number of human beings and their taxable income but also the populations of cows, sheep and rabbits.)18 We have something the Greeks and Romans did not, which is reliable facts and accurate statistics, and, in so far as they relate to more than the affairs of a particular business enterprise, these date back to the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century.
At the same time a Bedstaff was thrown at the Minister, which hit him on the Leg, but so favourably that a Lock of Wool could not have fallen more softly, and it was observed, that it stopt just where it lighted, without rolling or moving from the place.3 There have always been plenty of stories of the weird and the wonderful. This story comes from Saduscismus triumphatus, written by a clergyman, Joseph Glanvill, one of the chief propagandists for the new science, and a fellow of the Royal Society from 1664. Glanvill began publishing in defence of the reality of witchcraft in 1666, and his first version of the Mompesson story appeared the next year, in A Blow at Modern Sadducism, Sadducism being understood to be the denial of the reality of spirits. (The version just quoted comes from the posthumous work Saducismus triumphatus, or The Saducee Triumphed Over (1681), seen through the press by Glanvill’s friend the Platonist philosopher Henry More, which went through a further five editions.)
Temple touched on it only tangentially in his essay; it recedes into the background again in Swift’s Battle of the Books.11 But it was a central topic when Fontenelle took up the defence of the moderns against the ancients in France (1686),12 and it again played a central role in the major reply to Temple, Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning (1694; with an expanded second edition in 1698), by a young clergyman, William Wotton, who had managed to get himself elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, though science was far from being his primary interest. (Wotton was commissioned to write the first life of Robert Boyle; he began work but never finished as he fell, for a time, into a life of drunkenness and debauchery.)13 Temple knew very little about science, much less than Wotton, and lacked any inclination to make good this deficiency. He left an unfinished reply to Wotton when he died in 1699–missing was the discussion of science which needed to be the crux of his argument.
Erwin Schrodinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, British Empire, Brownian motion, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, trade route, upwardly mobile
This gave him security for life, and in those days there was no obligation or even pressure to publish scientific discoveries. Newton mostly preferred to keep his ideas to himself, rather than be bothered with the attention and time-consuming correspondence that would result if they became widely known. One idea he did announce, however, was his invention of a new kind of telescope, which resulted in his being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (founded in 1660, with the epithet “Royal” bestowed the following year) in 1672. This led to Newton presenting his ideas about light and colours to the Society, and in turn to a virulent argument with Robert Hooke (1635–1703), the man who as Curator of Experiments and later Secretary did more than anyone to make the Society a success. The experience confirmed Newton’s view that publicizing his ideas only led to trouble, and he retreated into his shell in Cambridge.
The experience confirmed Newton’s view that publicizing his ideas only led to trouble, and he retreated into his shell in Cambridge. There he continued thinking deeply about the nature of the physical world, but stopped telling anyone about his thoughts. That changed in 1684, when Edmond Halley (1656–1742) visited Newton in Cambridge. The purpose of his visit was to ask if Newton could help with a problem that had been puzzling Halley, Hooke, and another Fellow of the Royal Society, Christopher Wren (1632–1723). The three scientists had realized that the orbits of the planets around the Sun could be explained by a force which falls off in proportion to the square of the distance of a planet from the Sun (an inverse-square law), but they could not prove that all of the laws of planetary motion, described by Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), must result from such a law.
In a word: “politics.” Between 1938 and 1948 no German or Austrian citizens were elected to the Royal. In addition, before 1948 only foreign nationals who were not resident in one of the British Dominions were eligible for election. Technically, Ireland was still a British Dominion until 1948, when the new Irish government formally severed this last link with the past. Although the new Fellow of the Royal Society did not publish any scientific papers in 1949 (his first “fallow” year since 1923), he did issue a slim volume of poetry, which would surely not have appeared were it not for his fame as a physicist. Schrödinger’s poetry, in fact, reads almost like a pastiche of the kind of poetry you would expect a physicist to write—it is technically correct, in terms of metre, rhyme, and so on, but lacks the emotional impact of the work of a true poet.
The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, gravity well, Henri Poincaré, invention of radio, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, strikebreaker, University of East Anglia
They spent hundreds of hours playing the game with ever-higher numbers – until Dirac found a simple and general formula enabling any number to be expressed using four 2s, entirely within the rules.6 He had rendered the game pointless. On 20 February 1930, Dirac sent his parents the usual newsless weekly postcard, consisting of a ten-word summary of the Cambridge weather.7 The day after his mother received it, she visited the library and was astonished to read in a newspaper that her son had been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, one of the highest honours in British science. Excited and flushed with pride, she dashed out to the post office and sent him a congratulatory telegram, keeping in check her annoyance that he had not mentioned the news on the card.8 Dirac was a ‘naughty boy’, she told him two days later in a letter, enquiring whether the society was organising a ceremony of induction. ‘Do tell me,’ she wrote, stressing each word in frustration.9 Dirac could now put the initials FRS after his name, letters that render all other aces, after they had been nominated and passed over several times, soademic qualifications redundant.
Teller noted, however, that the experimental uncertainties in the calculations were so large that it was not possible definitely to rule out the hypothesis. 13 Barrow (2002: 107). 14 Letter from Dirac to Gamow, 10 January 1961, Gamow archive LC. 15 Quoted in Barrow (2002: 108). 16 Private papers of Mary Dirac. Dirac wrote the notes on 17 January 1933. 17 Letter to Dirac from Gamow, 26 October 1957, Dirac Papers, 2/5/4 (FSU). 18 John Douglas Cockcroft, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (1968): 139–88; see p. 185. 19 Mitton (2005: 127–9). 20 Overbye (1991: 39). 21 Letter from Gamow to Dirac, June 1965 (undated), Dirac Papers, 2/5/13 (FSU). 22 Letter from Heisenberg to Dirac, 2 March 1967, Dirac Papers, 2/14/1 (FSU). Letter from Dirac to Heisenberg, 6 March 1967, quoted in Brown and Rechenberg (1987: 148). 23 Letter from Geoffrey Harrison, HM Ambassador in Moscow, to Sir John Cockcroft, 19 April 1966, Cockcroft archive, CKFT 20/17 (CHURCHILL). 24 Kapitza gave the lecture at 5 p.m. on Monday, 16 May.
Teller noted, however, that the experimental uncertainties in the calculations were so large that it was not possible definitely to rule out the hypothesis. 13 Barrow (2002: 107). 14 Letter from Dirac to Gamow, 10 January 1961, Gamow archive LC. 15 Quoted in Barrow (2002: 108). 16 Private papers of Mary Dirac. Dirac wrote the notes on 17 January 1933. 17 Letter to Dirac from Gamow, 26 October 1957, Dirac Papers, 2/5/4 (FSU). 18 John Douglas Cockcroft, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (1968): 139–88; see p. 185. 19 Mitton (2005: 127–9). 20 Overbye (1991: 39). 21 Letter from Gamow to Dirac, June 1965 (undated), Dirac Papers, 2/5/13 (FSU). 22 Letter from Heisenberg to Dirac, 2 March 1967, Dirac Papers, 2/14/1 (FSU). Letter from Dirac to Heisenberg, 6 March 1967, quoted in Brown and Rechenberg (1987: 148). 23 Letter from Geoffrey Harrison, HM Ambassador in Moscow, to Sir John Cockcroft, 19 April 1966, Cockcroft archive, CKFT 20/17 (CHURCHILL). 24 Kapitza gave the lecture at 5 p.m. on Monday, 16 May.
Albert Einstein, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, barriers to entry, collective bargaining, computer age, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, delayed gratification, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flynn Effect, fudge factor, full employment, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, iterative process, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, moral hazard, Network effects, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Simon Kuznets, spinning jenny, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, éminence grise
It proved an attractive destination for refugees of another disaster, the Jacobite Rebellions of the early eighteenth century (the fruitless attempts to return the Stuart kings to the throne following the Glorious Revolution of 1688), which resulted in, among other things, the emigration of thousands of Scots to the island.* In 1747, one of them1 (a Scot, not a Jacobite), Alexander Macfarlane, a merchant, a judge, a mathematician, and yet another of those “gentlemen, free and unconfin’d” who could style themselves Fellows of the Royal Society, acquired several dozen state-of-the-art astronomical instruments from another Scot named Colin Campbell. Campbell was not merely a countryman, but a fellow alumnus of Glasgow University, so it was scarcely surprising that when Macfarlane died in 1755, his collection was bequeathed to their alma mater. The ships that traveled from the Caribbean to Britain had a good deal more experience carrying sugar than they did telescopes and quadrants, whose iron components were not improved by several weeks exposure to salt air.
SMEATON, UNLIKE MOST OF his generation’s innovators, came from a secure middle-class family: his father was an attorney in Leeds, who invited his then sixteen-year-old son into the family firm in 1740. Luckily for the history of engineering, young John found the law less interesting than tinkering, and by 1748 he had moved to London and set up shop as a maker of scientific instruments; five years later, when James Watt arrived in the city seeking to be trained in exactly the same trade, Smeaton was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and had already built his first water mill. In 1756, he was hired to rebuild the Eddystone Lighthouse, which had burned down the year before; the specification for the sixty-foot-tall structure* required that it be constructed on the Eddystone rocks off the Devonshire coast between high and low tide, and so demanded the invention of a cement—hydraulic lime—that would set even if submerged in water.
It explains heat radiation and Boyle’s Law, and even formed the basis, forty years after Poldory, for Sadi Carnot’s Réflexions, and the first working theory of steam engines: that their capacity depended only on the difference between high temperature and low temperature, which, in Watt’s steam engine, was the difference between the temperature of the boiler and that of the condenser. This didn’t mean that no one was thinking outside the caloric box. There was, for example, the thoroughly remarkable Benjamin Thompson of Massachusetts, a loyalist American who, after backing the losing side in the Revolutionary War, moved, first to England (where in 1779 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society), and four years later, apparently on a whim, to Bavaria. There he found himself, on behalf of the Prince-Elector2 Karl-Theodor, running an espionage network that stole design sketches from the Soho Manufactory and spirited them out of England. For this and other services (including the invention of Rumford Soup, a concoction of peas, barley, potato, and old beer intended to meet the nutritional needs of Europe’s poor) he was made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1791.
Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who ... by David Barrie
centre right, colonial exploitation, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, lone genius, Maui Hawaii, Nicholas Carr, polynesian navigation, South China Sea, trade route
Unlike the astrolabe or quadrant it can be used for measuring angles in any plane—for example, between two heavenly bodies, or between two objects on the surface of the earth. The sextant was the offspring of an earlier invention, the so-called reflecting quadrant. Sir Isaac Newton can take credit for designing the first device of this kind, plans for which were shown to the Royal Society in 1699.12 Another Fellow of the Royal Society, John Hadley (1682–1744), came up with two designs, similar to Newton’s though apparently not derived from them, which he presented to that institution in May 1731.13 One of these was widely adopted following successful sea trials conducted the following year by the Oxford professor of astronomy John Bradley, who was later to become Astronomer Royal.14 By one of those strange coincidences that seem common in the history of science, an American—Thomas Godfrey—independently came up with a similar design almost simultaneously.15 Confusingly, the reflecting quadrant is actually an octant—its arc is one-eighth of a circle (45 degrees) rather than one-quarter.
I had new sheets laid & the bed rubbed up & dried as well as could be done, & in this damp bed I turned in . . . but the continual rolling of the Ship hindered me from Sleeping. . . . The Ocean & the winds raged all night.15 Cook reached home in July 1775 and was greeted as a hero—rather like Neil Armstrong returning from the moon, though he had been away for much longer. He was promoted to the rank of post-captain and, early the following year, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He could now have enjoyed a comfortable retirement with his wife and children, but the challenge of further exploration could not be resisted. In July 1776 Cook set sail on his final voyage with two ships—the Resolution (again) and the Discovery—this time heading into the far north of the Pacific in search of the fabled northern route to the Atlantic. On the way he became the first European discoverer of the Hawaiian Islands.
Louis-Antoine de Bougainville (1729–1811)—absurdly best known today in the English-speaking world for the tropical plant that bears his name—set sail from France in November 1766 in the frigate La Boudeuse (“the sulky”), almost two years ahead of Cook. Unlike Cook, he was a relative newcomer to the sea. He had started his career on the staff of the French ambassador in London (where he met Anson) and later distinguished himself in the army as aide-de-camp to General Montcalm.1 A highly educated and cultivated man, he had, while still in his twenties, published a two-volume treatise on integral calculus and was already a Fellow of the Royal Society in London. With feigned modesty, Bougainville warned readers of his Voyage autour du monde that his style was “all too plainly” marked by the wild, nomadic life he had for so long been leading. “It is neither in the forests of Canada nor on the breast of the sea that one develops the art of writing,”2 he proclaimed. In fact, his Voyage is beautifully crafted, and among the reading public it found an appreciative audience.
The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution by Henry Schlesinger
Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, British Empire, Copley Medal, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Livingstone, I presume, Menlo Park, popular electronics, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, Vannevar Bush, Yogi Berra
The allure of science must have been irresistible. As with nearly everything he did, Franklin threw himself into electrical experimentation with gusto. From 1746 until 1752 these efforts consumed him. A glass tube along with a sampling of the latest scientific literature was soon sent to him by his friend Peter Collinson. A London cloth merchant, agent for Franklin’s Library Company of Philadelphia, and a fellow of the Royal Society, Collinson was an ideal conduit into European scientific circles. Although his own field of interest was botany rather than electricity, Collinson was nevertheless an enthusiastic and often effective supporter of Franklin’s work. Within a year, Franklin was writing letters back to Collinson detailing his discoveries. The early letters, although read before the Royal Society, remained unpublished in Philosophical Transactions.
One of their first experiments was the successful decomposition of water—using an electrical charge to break water down into its two components. This made big news across Europe. Water, thought to be an element, was now definitively shown—with the help of Volta’s device—to be a compound composed of hydrogen and oxygen. In many reports the apparatus—the battery—that accomplished the decomposition rated only secondary mention. On June 26, Banks read Volta’s letter to the Fellows of the Royal Society, and by September of that year, the letter was translated into English and published in Philosophical Transactions under the title “On the Electricity Excited by the Mere Contact of Conducting Substances of Different Kinds.” From there, news of the miraculous invention spread quickly and by the autumn of 1800 experimenters throughout Europe were building and using their own voltaic batteries.
AFTER SOME FOURTEEN YEARS, HENRY moved from Princeton to the not yet fully formed Smithsonian Institution, where he became secretary and played a pivotal role in one of the more interesting chapters in American science. Founded on roughly the same principles as the Royal Institution by James Smithson, a British subject, the Smithsonian was to be the legacy of a man who would never see the final result. Although an early member of the Royal Institution, Fellow of the Royal Society, and enthusiastic experimenter, Smithson felt he was never accorded the full respect due a gentleman of science. The illegitimate son of Hugh Smithson, first Duke of Northumberland, and Elizabeth Macie, a lineal descendant of King Henry VII, he was accepted for his lineage but never entirely welcomed into British society because of his out-of-wedlock birth. Frustrated, he left En gland and set up residence in Paris on the rue Montmartre, where he welcomed American visitors.
Isaac Newton by James Gleick
Albert Einstein, Astronomia nova, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Isaac Newton, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
I am purposing them, to be considered of & examined, an accompt of a Philosophicall discovery which induced me to the making of the said Telescope, & which I doubt not but will prove much more gratefull then the communication of that instrument, being in my Judgment the oddest if not the most considerable detection which hath hitherto been made in the operations of Nature.33 And by the way, what would his duties be, as Fellow of the Royal Society? 7 Reluctancy and Reaction THE GREAT COURT of Trinity College was mostly complete, with a library and stables, central fountain, and fenced-in plots of grass. An avenue of newly planted linden trees lay to the southwest.1 Newton occupied a chamber upstairs between the Great Gate and the chapel. To the west stood a four-walled court used for the game of tennis. Sometimes he watched fellows play, and he noticed that the ball could curve, and not just downward.
In England it arose faint in the early morning sky for a few weeks in November till it approached the sun and faded in the dawn. Few saw it. A more dramatic spectacle appeared in the nights of December. Newton saw it with naked eye on December 12: a comet whose great tail, broader than the moon, stretched over the full length of King’s College Chapel. He tracked it almost nightly through the first months of 1681.1 A young astronomer traveling to France, Edmond Halley, a new Fellow of the Royal Society, was amazed at its brilliance.2 Robert Hooke observed it several times in London. Across the Atlantic Ocean, where a handful of colonists were struggling to survive on a newfound continent, Increase Mather delivered a sermon, “Heaven’s Alarm to the World,” to warn Puritans of God’s displeasure.3 Halley served as a sometime assistant to a new officeholder, the Astronomer Royal. This was John Flamsteed, a clergyman and self-taught skywatcher appointed by the King in 1675, responsible for creating and equipping an observatory on a hilltop across the River Thames at Greenwich.
Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, Grace Hopper, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, New Journalism, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, thinkpad, Turing machine, Turing test, V2 rocket
George must have been impressed with what he saw of the heavens through that instrument, and perhaps that was one of the influences that propelled him toward his career as a profoundly creative mathematician. A camera obscura was another of their joint projects. John may, in fact, have spent too much time on optics and not enough on repairing shoes. In 1956 Sir Geoffrey Taylor (1886–1975), a mathematical physicist of some renown, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a grandson of George (his mother was the second of Boole’s five daughters), wrote the following: “I have inherited from my grandmother [Boole’s eventual wife, Mary Everest (1832–1916)], a box made by John Boole to hold a microscope he had made. Inside the lid is pasted a note in her handwriting [declaring], ‘He seems to have been able to do anything well except his own business of managing the shop.”’
He had numerous public battles in the newspapers, for example, with the chemist Sir Robert Kane (1809–1890), the president of Queen’s College, over a variety of issues that, like most issues in academic fights, were of a consequence far less impressive than were the fireworks. Boole was hard for Kane to ignore, however, as Boole was clearly one of the college’s stars. Almost from the start, Boole’s academic life in Cork was one of moving from one honor and achievement to the next. In 1852 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Dublin, in 1854 An Investigation of the Laws of Thought was published, in 1857 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and there was the Keith Prize in 1858. In 1859 his A Treatise on Differential Equations was published, and he received another honorary doctorate, this time from Oxford. In 1860 another textbook was published, A Treatise on the Calculus of Finite Differences. Boole had found heaven in Cork. He loved his teaching, his family, and he was at the peak of his intellectual powers.
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein
Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, buttonwood tree, capital asset pricing model, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, endowment effect, experimental economics, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Fermat's Last Theorem, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, index fund, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, linear programming, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, mental accounting, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, spectrum auction, statistical model, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transaction costs, tulip mania, Vanguard fund
Jacob undertook this task, he tells us, after having meditated on it for twenty years; he completed his work only when he was approaching the age of 80, shortly before he died in 1705. Jacob was an exceptionally dour Bernoulli, especially toward the end of his life, though he lived during the bawdy and jolly age that followed the restoration of Charles II in 1660.* One of Jacob's more distinguished contemporaries, for example, was John Arbuthnot, Queen Anne's doctor, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and an amateur mathematician with an interest in probability that he pepped up with a generous supply of off-color examples to illustrate his points. In one of Arbuthnot's papers, he considered the odds on whether "a woman of twenty has her maidenhead" or whether "a town-spark of that age `has not been clap'd."'2 Jacob Bernoulli had first put the question of how to develop probabilities from sample data in 1703.
Questions put in this manner form the subject matter of what is known as inverse probability: with 12 defective pins out of 100,000, what is the probability that the true average ratio of defectives to the total is 0.01%? One of the most effective treatments of such questions was proposed by a minister named Thomas Bayes, who was born in 1701 and lived in Kent." Bayes was a Nonconformist; he rejected most of the ceremonial rituals that the Church of England had retained from the Catholic Church after their separation in the time of Henry VIII. Not much is known about Bayes, even though he was a Fellow of the Royal Society. One otherwise dry and impersonal textbook in statistics went so far as to characterize him as "enigmatic."16 He published nothing in mathematics while he was alive and left only two works that were published after his death but received little attention when they appeared. Yet one of those papers, Essay Towards Solving A Problem In The Doctrine Of Chances, was a strikingly original piece of work that immortalized Bayes among statisticians, economists, and other social scientists.
Inspired by Darwin's voyage to the Galapagos, he made the first of two trips to Africa, sailing up the Nile and then traveling by camel to Khartoum-a total distance of a thousand miles. After his return to England, he idled away four years and then made a second trip to Africa. He wrote a book about Africa in 1853 that gained him membership in the Royal Geographic Society, which awarded him a gold medal, and won him acceptance by the scientific community. In 1856, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society. His second trip to Africa when he was 27 left Galton "rather used up in health," the result of a combination of physical exhaustion and bouts of depression that were to recur often though briefly throughout his life. He referred to himself on those occasions as someone with a "sprained brain."9 Galton was an amateur scientist with a keen interest in heredity but with no interest in business or economics.
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer
The equivalent of the US National Academy of Sciences in Britain (and the Commonwealth, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, anglophone Africa, etc.) is the Royal Society. As this book goes to press, my colleagues R. Elisabeth Cornwell and Michael Stirrat are writing up their comparable, but more thorough, research on the religious opinions of the Fellows of the Royal Society (FRS). The authors’ conclusions will be published in full later, but they have kindly allowed me to quote preliminary results here. They used a standard technique for scaling opinion, the Likert-type seven-point scale. All 1,074 Fellows of the Royal Society who possess an email address (the great majority) were polled, and about 23 per cent responded (a good figure for this kind of study). They were offered various propositions, for example: ‘I believe in a personal God, that is one who takes an interest in individuals, hears and answers prayers, is concerned with sin and transgressions, and passes judgement.’
A more systematic study by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi ‘found that among Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences, as well as those in literature, there was a remarkable degree of irreligiosity, as compared to the populations they came from’.52 A study in the leading journal Nature by Larson and Witham in 1998 showed that of those American scientists considered eminent enough by their peers to have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (equivalent to being a Fellow of the Royal Society in Britain) only about 7 per cent believe in a personal God.53 This overwhelming preponderance of atheists is almost the exact opposite of the profile of the American population at large, of whom more than 90 per cent are believers in some sort of supernatural being. The figure for less eminent scientists, not elected to the National Academy, is intermediate. As with the more distinguished sample, religious believers are in a minority, but a less dramatic minority of about 40 per cent.
Albert Einstein, British Empire, Build a better mousetrap, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, life extension, mouse model, phenotype, stem cell, stochastic process, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
However, it wasn’t clear how significant this was for the genes normally found in the nuclei of cells, rather than ones that were injected into cells. The key work in establishing the importance of methylation in mammalian cells came out of the laboratory of Adrian Bird, who has spent most of his scientific career in Edinburgh, Conrad Waddington’s old stomping ground. Professor Bird is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a former Governor of the Wellcome Trust, the enormously influential independent funding agency in UK science. He is one of those traditional British scientific types – understated, soft-spoken, non-flashy and drily funny. His lack of self-promotion is in contrast to his stellar international reputation, where he is widely acknowledged as the godfather of DNA methylation and its role in controlling gene expression.
The major force in this field is Professor Azim Surani, from Cambridge University, who started his scientific career by obtaining his PhD under the supervision of Robert Edwards. Since Professor Edwards received his early research training in Conrad Waddington’s lab, we can think of Azim Surani as Conrad Waddington’s intellectual grandson. Azim Surani is another of those UK academics who carries his prestige very lightly, despite his status. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Commander of the British Empire, and has been awarded the prestigious Gabor Medal and Royal Society Royal Medal. Like John Gurdon and Adrian Bird, he continues to break new ground in a research area that he pioneered over a quarter of a century ago. Starting in the mid 1980s, Azim Surani carried out a programme of experiments which showed unequivocally that mammalian reproduction is much more than a matter of a delivery system.
E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, British Empire, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Mercator projection, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stephen Hawking, Thorstein Veblen, V2 rocket
From his religious background, he imagined a whirling tornado of invisible circular lines swirling around it. If he were right, then a loosely dangling wire could be tugged along, caught in those mystical circles like a small boat getting caught up in a whirlpool. He connected the battery. 15 a n c e s t o r s o f e = m c2 And immediately he had the discovery of the century. Later, the apocryphal story goes—after all the announcements, after Faraday was made a Fellow of the Royal Society—the prime minister of the day asked what good this invention could be, and Faraday answered: “Why, Prime Minister, someday you can tax it.” What Faraday had invented, in his basement laboratory, was the basis of the electric engine. A single dangled wire, whirling around and around, doesn’t seem like much. But Faraday had only a small magnet, and was feeding in very little power. Rev it up, and that whirling wire will still doggedly follow the circular patterns he had mapped out in seemingly empty air.
A young man such as Einstein, always keen to understand the foundation of a ﬁeld for himself, could readily see that his professors had simply made an induction from a very incomplete data set. 245 notes There are many accounts of how lurking categories pull our thoughts along, as with George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), or Kedourie’s excellent writings on nationalism, yet for some reason this author is especially pulled toward the approach in Bodanis’s Web of Words: The Ideas Behind Politics (London: Macmillan, 1988). 38 . . . when members . . . in Florence: Galileo’s proposal was in the First Day section of his Two New Sciences. The test was over twenty years later, probably around 1660, by the Accademia del Cimento in Florence. Their results are on page 158 of a book with the sort of vivid identifying location publishers no longer have: Essayes of Natural Experiments, made in the Academie del Cimento; Englished by Richard Waller, Fellow of the Royal Society, London. Printed for Benjamin Alsop at the Angel and Bible in the Poultrey, over-against the Church, 1634. 5. c Is for celeritas 40 The effort might be exhausting . . . embarrassing public exposure: Clearly I’m being slightly tongue in cheek about Cassini. From the available evidence, he might have been an insecure man, but as a newcomer to France he had a great deal to be insecure about: At ﬁrst his appointment was only temporary, and he’d been warned not to try speaking French, but then he’d been told he had to learn French, for the Academy of Sciences couldn’t be sullied by being exposed to Latin, let alone his native Italian.
Racing With Death by Beau Riffenburgh
He also studied Precambrian glaciation, algal remains in Precambrian rocks, and the geochemistry of igneous and metamorphic rocks. He was appointed an executive member of the Australian National Research Council, was a key figure in the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, and, in 1923, received one of the highest honours possible for a scientist by being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. None of this seemed to help, however, in his efforts to succeed Professor David as the chair of the Geology Department at the University of Sydney – the most prestigious geological position in Australia. The most surprising aspect of the complex and devious behind-the-scenes struggle surrounding the appointment to the post was that the man giving the strongest support for Mawson’s main opponent was Professor David!
London: William Heinemann: vol. 2, 167–94 Ainsworth, George. 1915. A Land of Storm and Mist. In: Mawson, Douglas. The Home of the Blizzard. 2 vols. London: William Heinemann: vol. 2, 195–236 Ainsworth, George. 1915. Through Another Year. In: Mawson, Douglas. The Home of the Blizzard. 2 vols. London: William Heinemann: vol. 2, 237–54 Alderman, A.R., and C.E. Tilley. 1960. Douglas Mawson 1882–1958. Biographical memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 5 Carrington-Smith, Denise. 2005. Mawson and Mertz: a re-evaluation of their ill-fated mapping journey during the 1911–14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition. The Medical Journal of Australia 183 (11–12): 638–41 Cleland, Sir John, and R.V. Southcott. 1969. Hypervitaminosis A in the Antarctic in the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911–1914: a Possible Explanation of the Illnesses of Mertz and Mawson.
Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh
Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, kremlinology, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, Simon Singh, Wolfskehl Prize
‘Young men should prove theorems, old men should write books,’ observed G.H. Hardy in his book A Mathematician’s Apology. ‘No mathematician should ever forget that mathematics, more than any other art or science, is a young man’s game. To take a simple illustration, the average age of election to the Royal Society is lowest in mathematics.’ His own most brilliant student Srinivasa Ramanujan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society at the age of just thirty-one, having made a series of outstanding breakthroughs during his youth. Despite having received very little formal education in his home village of Kumbakonam in South India, Ramanujan was able to create theorems and solutions which had evaded mathematicians in the West. In mathematics the experience that comes with age seems less important than the intuition and daring of youth.
Mathematics: The New Golden Age, by Keith Devlin, 1990, Penguin. A popular and detailed overview of modern mathematics, including a discussion on the axioms of mathematics. The Concepts of Modem Mathematics, by Ian Stewart, 1995, Penguin. Principia Mathematica, by Betrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead, 3 vols, 1910, 1912, 1913, Cambridge University Press. Kurt Gödel, by G. Kreisel, Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Royal Society, 1980. A Mathematician’s Apology, by G.H. Hardy, 1940, Cambridge University Press. One of the great figures of twentieth-century mathematics gives a personal account of what motivates him and other mathematicians. Alan Turing: The Enigma of Intelligence, by Andrew Hodges, 1983, Unwin Paperbacks. An account of the life of Alan Turing, including his contribution to breaking the Enigma code.
Mad Mobs and Englishmen? Myths and Realities of the 2011 Riots by Steve Reicher, Cliff Stott
To conclude, it is worth remembering the words of the great African-American author James Baldwin, writing in 1963, just before the wave of urban riots that rocked the US: If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, recreated from the Bible in song by a slave is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign. No more water, the fire next time!222 Biographies Stephen Reicher is the world’s leading expert on crowd psychology, having studied the area for over thirty years and advised the Government, the Police and the Fire Service on how people behave in crowds. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of St Andrews and is an Academician of the Social Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Past Editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology and a Scientific Consultant to Scientific American Mind. His work on other group phenomena includes mass social influence and political rhetoric, nationalism, delinquency, leadership and tyranny, and his work on tyranny was featured in four one-hour documentaries on BBC2 (www.bbcprisonstudy.org). In total, Professor Reicher has some two hundred publications and his recent books include Self and Nation (2001, with Nick Hopkins) and The New Psychology of Leadership (2010, with Alex Haslam and Michael Platow).
Longitude by Dava Sobel
As Harrison described their first meeting in his inimitable prose, “Mr Graham began as I thought very roughly with me, and the which had like to have occasioned me to become rough too; but however we got the ice broke . . . and indeed he became as at last vastly surprised at the thoughts or methods I had taken.” Harrison went to see Graham at ten o’clock in the morning, and by eight that evening they were still talking shop. Graham, the premier scientific instrument maker and a Fellow of the Royal Society, invited Harrison, the village carpenter, to stay to dinner. When Graham finally said good night, he waved Harrison back to Barrow with every encouragement, including a generous loan, to be repaid with no great haste and at no interest. Harrison spent the next five years piecing together the first sea clock, which has come to be called Harrison’s No. 1, for it marked the first in a series of attempts—H-1 for short.
The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, centralized clearinghouse, Chance favours the prepared mind, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, germ theory of disease, index card, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Mason jar, means of production, statistical model, the medium is the message, the scientific method, traveling salesman, women in the workforce
Bartmess, “Role of Neuraminidase in Lethal Synergism Between Influenza Virus and Streptococcus Pneumoniae,” William Osler, Osler’s Textbook Revisited (1967), Journal of Infectious Diseases (2003), 1000–1009. “To bleed at the very onset”: 00. “Pneumonia is a self-limited disease”: Ibid. “true inwardness of research”: Quoted in McLeod, “Oswald Theodore Avery, 1877–1955,” Journal of General Microbiology (1957), 540. “An acute need for privacy”: René Dubos, “Oswald Theodore Avery, 1877–1955,” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 35. “as if a mask dropped”: Ibid. “a natural born comedian”: Donald Van Slyke, oral history, NLM. about Landsteiner’s personal life: René Dubos, The Professor, the Institute, and DNA (1976), 47. notified he’d won the Nobel: Saul Benison, Tom Rivers: Reflections on Life in Medicine and Science, an Oral History Memoir (1967), 91–93. “motives that lead persons to art or science”: Quoted in Dubos, Professor, 179.
Conference itself reported in Public Health Reports 44, no. 122. “the best claim to serious consideration”: Thomson and Thomson, Influenza, v. 9, 512. “scientific problems were almost forced on him”: René Dubos, The Professor, the Institute and DNA (1976), 174. “not as broad”: Ibid., 74. “narrow range of techniques”: Dubos, “Oswald Theodore Avery, 1877–1955,” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (1956), 40. “‘the whole secret…in this little vial’”: Michael Heidelberger, oral history, 70, NLM. “extreme precision and elegance”: Dubos, Professor, Institute and DNA, 173. “never published a joint paper”: Ibid., 82. “digging a deep hole”: Ibid., 175. “fundamental to biology”: Heidelberger, oral history, 129. “what more do you want”: Dubos, Professor, Institute and DNA, 143. “likened to a gene”: Oswald Avery, Colin McLeod, and Maclyn McCarty, “Studies on the Chemical Nature of the Substance Inducing Transformation of Pneumococcal Types,” Journal of Experimental Medicine (Feb. 1, 1944, reprinted Feb. 1979), 297–326.
New York: Scientific American Inc., 1994. Dowdle, W. R., and M. A. Hattwick. “Swine Influenza Virus Infections in Humans.” Journal of Infectious Disease 136, supp. S (Dec. 1977): 386–89. Draggoti, G. “Nervous Manifestations of Influenza.” Policlinico 26, no. 6 (Feb. 8, 1919) 161, quoted in JAMA 72, no. 15 (April 12, 1919): 1105. Dubos, René. “Oswald Theodore Avery, 1877–1955.” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 2 (1956): 35–48. Durand, M. L. et al. “Acute Bacterial Meningitis in Adults: A Review of 493 Episodes.” New England Journal of Medicine 328, no. 1 (Jan. 1993) 21–28. Eaton, Ernest. “A Tribute to Royal Copeland.” Journal of the Institute of Homeopathy 31, no. 9: 555–58. Ebert, R. G. “Comments on the Army Venereal Problem.” Military Surgeon 42 (July–Dec. 1918), 19–20. Emerson, G. M.
The confusion by Neal Stephenson
correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, out of africa, Socratic dialogue, South China Sea, spice trade, urban planning, web of trust
“Colbert himself said, ‘Trade is the source of finance, and finance is the vital sinews of war.’ What our countries cannot pay for with bullion, they will have to get in trade.” “C’est juste, monsieur, but do not forget that there is trade not only in tangible stuff like Monsieur Wachsmann’s wax, but also in money itself: the stock in trade of Lothar von Hacklheber. Which is a murky and abstruse business, and a fit topic of study for Fellows of the Royal Society.” “I thought they only studied butterflies.” “Some of them, monsieur, study banks and money as well; and I fear they have got a head start on our French lepidopterists.” Cap Gris-Nez, France 15 DECEMBER 1689 A DUTCHMAN PAINTING THIS SCAPE would have had little recourse to pigments; a spate of gull-shit on a bench could have served as his palette. The sky was white, and so was the ground.
The sorts of men who, having no other outlet for their ideas, would have devoted their lives to it, had they come of age when I did, may now make careers in the City, the Colonies, or in foreign adventures. We of the Royal Society are generally identified as Whigs. Our President is the Marquis of Ravenscar, a very powerful Whig, and he has been assiduous in finding ways to harness the ingenuity of the Fellows of the Royal Society for practical ends. Some of these, I gad, have to do with money, revenue, banks, stocks, and other subjects that fascinate you. But I must confess I have fallen quite out of touch with such matters. Isaac Newton was elected to Parliament a year ago, in the wake of our Revolution. He had made a name for himself in Cambridge opposing the former King’s efforts to salt the University with Jesuits.
“Indeed, Daniel, any man plucked from this coffee-house—with one or two exceptions—would be preferable to the fellows running our mint now, who are tapeworms.” Daniel was staring fixedly into Roger’s eyes, but in the background he could see the Tory turning away. The Tory planted himself with his back toward Roger, set his coffee-cup down on a sideboard, rested a hand idly on the hilt of his small-sword, and seemed to survey the crowd of merry Whigs filling the house. “It follows that any Fellow of the Royal Society would be excellent—but merely excellent is not quite good enough, Daniel. Normally it takes me hours to explain why this is true. You, thank God, have perceived it instantly. The fate of Britain and of Christendom hinge upon the power of the new good Pound Sterling to drive out the bad—to sweep all opposition from the field and bring gold and silver to our shores from every corner of the earth.
Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British by Jeremy Paxman
British Empire, call centre, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, conceptual framework, Etonian, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, imperial preference, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Kibera, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, offshore financial centre, polynesian navigation, Scramble for Africa, transatlantic slave trade
By eighteen he was working on a North Sea coal-ship, and on joining the Royal Navy his exceptional navigation and charting skills earned him rapid promotion to the rank of master. The voyages of exploration carried out under James Cook’s command expressed the combination of motives which drove the new expansion of empire. Inevitably, competition with the historical enemy was part of it. When, in the 1760s, the Fellows of the Royal Society heard that Paris was planning to dispatch expeditions to watch the transit of Venus across the sun (a predictable astronomical event vital for calculating the distance between the earth and the sun), they were troubled, demanding that Britain should do the same. The vessel which would carry British ambition was a one-time coal-ship, renamed the Endeavour. She was of no great size (a mere 106 feet long and under 30 feet wide) and was so crammed with scientific instruments that when she reached Rio de Janeiro the viceroy there found it impossible to believe that anyone would have embarked on such a dangerous expedition merely in the interests of science.
If this was true, Bruce had settled a question which had baffled learning since long before Ptolemy. (As it turned out, it was not true – he was nowhere near the source of the White Nile, and the place he was celebrating – which was not even the place where the Blue Nile began – had anyway been ‘discovered’ by a Portuguese priest many years previously.) Bruce was fêted in London and elected a fellow of the Royal Society, even though the Society’s president considered him a ‘brute’. But not everyone quite believed him. Dr Johnson, who had appointed himself an expert on Abyssinia, thought Bruce ‘not a distinct relater’ and soon came to doubt whether he had been to that country at all. Many of the public agreed. The author of the fantastical Adventures of Baron Munchausen dedicated one of his volumes to Bruce, saying they might be useful to him on his next journey.
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking
Faraday spent the rest of his career at the Royal Institution, becoming Director of the Laboratory in 1825 and Professor of Chemistry there in 1833. He was a great experimenter and explainer rather than a mathematician, and was a very successful and genuinely popular lecturer, who founded the Royal Institution Christmas lectures for children, which continue to this day. By the time he died, in 1867, he had become a Fellow of the Royal Society and was widely recognized as one of the scientific giants of his day. But he was also modest, and along the way turned down the offer of a knighthood and twice refused the offer of the Presidency of the Royal Society. And, in his attempts to find a way to describe what happened when electric and magnetic forces act upon one another, he came up with the idea—what we would now call a model—of a ‘line of force’, which Maxwell then elaborated into the first field theory.
Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science by Dani Rodrik
airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, bank run, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, butterfly effect, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, distributed generation, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, fudge factor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loss aversion, low skilled workers, market design, market fundamentalism, minimum wage unemployment, oil shock, open economy, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, school vouchers, South Sea Bubble, spectrum auction, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, ultimatum game, University of East Anglia, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, white flight
Rogoff, Growth in a Time of Debt, NBER Working Paper 15639 (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2010). 19. Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff” (Amherst: University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Political Economy Research Institute, April 15, 2013). 20. R. E. Peierls, “Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, 1900–1958,” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 5 (February 1960): 186. 21. Albert Einstein, “Physics and Reality,” in Ideas and Opinions of Albert Einstein, trans. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Crown, 1954), 290, cited in Susan Haack, “Science, Economics, ‘Vision,’ ” Social Research 71, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 225. CHAPTER 3: Navigating among Models 1. David Colander and Roland Kupers, Complexity and the Art of Public Policy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014), 8. 2.
St Pancras Station by Simon Bradley
His eminence in many fields was recognised by the French, who made him an honorary member of the Société des Ingénieurs Civils de France. Indeed, Barlow’s curriculum vitae is one of achievement, prosperity and acclaim throughout. In his early twenties he oversaw the modernisation of the ordnance and lighthouses at Constantinople, for which the Sultan appointed him to the Nichan Iftikhar, or Order of Glory; in his thirty-eighth year he became an exceptionally youthful Fellow of the Royal Society; and so on. But in human terms Barlow now seems remote: he left no memoir and has found no biographer, and even the date of his marriage has not been discovered. Can his inner life have been as troubled and self-reproachful as Scott’s? We are unlikely ever to know. The French and American locations mentioned are reminders that late nineteenth-century Britain was industrial top dog no longer.
The Man Who Invented the Computer by Jane Smiley
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, British Empire, c2.com, computer age, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, IBM and the Holocaust, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Norbert Wiener, RAND corporation, Turing machine, V2 rocket, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture
(Iowa State University Library/Special Collections Department) One of the ABC’s two electrostatic memory drums, the only surviving part of the original machine. (Courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory) Konrad Zuse’s Z1 computer, built in his parents’ Berlin apartment c. 1936. (Courtesy of Horst Zuse) Konrad Zuse, 1910–1995. (Courtesy of Horst Zuse) Alan Turing, 1912–1954, upon his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1951. (© National Portrait Gallery, London) Bletchley Park staff at work on deciphering codes, Hut 6. (Bletchley Park Trust Archive) A Lorenz SZ42 Schlüsselzusatz cipher machine on display at Bletchley Park. (Bletchley Park Trust Archive) Thomas Flowers, 1905–1998. (Bletchley Park Trust Archive) Colossus at work in 1943; note paper tape. (Science Museum/SSPL) Aiken’s Mark I analog device in use, 1944.
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, false memory syndrome, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Isaac Newton, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, the scientific method
., 87 time: beginning of, 164–5; measuring, 44–6, 100 time machine, 14, 46–9, 256 Tiv tribe, 124 Tlaloc, 125 tossing a coin, 222, 224–6 tradition, 241 tsunami, 200–1, 223 universe: alien life forms, 180–1; big bang, 164–5, 177; distances, 166–7; expanding, 177; laws of, 252–3; observable, 164–5; origin myths, 162–4 uranium, 92, 134 uranium-238, 44–5, 46 Utnapashtim, 146–8 vaccination, 232 Venus, 116, 132 Vesuvius, eruption, 214 viruses, 227, 230, 234 Vishnu, 163 vision, 194–7 volcanoes, 43, 67, 69–70, 212, 214 watches, 243–4 water on other planets, 190–2 water wheels, 141–2, 143 Watson, James, 17–18 Wegener, Alfred, 208–9, 210 weightlessness, 111–12 West African legends, 124, 149, 204–5, 217 whales, 18, 58, 72, 157, 197 white dwarf, 133 Wilde, Oscar, 216 Wilkins, Maurice, 18 wind, 90, 173, 213, 229 winter, 100, 102–3, 107–9, 118–21 Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 105 Wright, Elsie, 245–6 X-rays, 18, 157, 158, 167, 196–7 Zulu creation myth, 163 About the Author and Illustrator Richard Dawkins was first catapulted to fame with his iconic book The Selfish Gene, which he followed with a string of bestselling books, including the phenomenal The God Delusion. The Magic of Reality is his first book written for a younger, more general readership and it also became an immediate bestseller in its original, colour illustrated hardback edition. Dawkins is a fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature, and has won numerous awards. He was a professor at Oxford University until 2008 and he remains a fellow of New College. He has also written and presented several television documentaries, including The Genius of Charles Darwin in 2008 and Faith School Menace in 2010. Dave McKean has illustrated and designed many award-winning books and graphic novels.
3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, attribution theory, augmented reality, barriers to entry, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, deliberate practice, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filter Bubble, Google X / Alphabet X, hive mind, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, popular electronics, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs
(video game), 1–4, 14, 203n1, 205n14 US Open of Surfing, 104–6, 113–15 youth chess master, 38–39 Wright, Tyler, 113 Yahoo, 4, 204n4 Yang, Jerry, 4, 204n4 Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), 9 “You’re Better Off Being a Fast Follower Than an Originator” (Blank), 116 YouTube, 37, 46–47, 120, 141–43, 153–54, 156, 231n156 ABOUT THE AUTHOR SHANE SNOW is a journalist and entrepreneur based in New York City. In 2010 he cofounded Contently Inc., with the mission of building a better media world. He writes about technology for Wired magazine and Fast Company, and is known nationwide for speaking about the future of media. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and Time. A fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Snow has been named one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30 Media Innovators,” Details magazine’s “Digital Mavericks,” and Inc. magazine’s “Coolest Entrepreneurs.” Smartcuts is his first book. Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins authors. COPYRIGHT SMARTCUTS. Copyright © 2014 by Shane Snow. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Fred Dibnah's Age of Steam by David Hall, Fred Dibnah
While he was watching the idle turn of a waterwheel he realized that the latent energy could be used more effectively if the flow was regular and concentrated in just one column. As for electricity, as early as 1840 he had learned about an engineer who received an electrical discharge from an emission of high-pressure steam and it was from this that the principle of hydroelectric energy was derived. He wrote papers and gave lectures on the subject and then, while he was still practising as a solicitor, he was made a fellow of the Royal Society. Armstrong was perhaps the greatest innovator of the Victorian age and nothing he attempted was a failure. But he didn’t seem to have quite the same bravado as Brunel. That was to be found in a man who served his engineering apprenticeship with Armstrong. Charles Parsons was one of the greatest engineers that this country has produced. He was the man who really invented the first successful steam turbine, which revolutionized electricity generation and marine transport and ensured that steam would continue to be used in the age of electricity.
AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War by Tom McNichol
He was in the process of selling his printing shop in Philadelphia and retiring from business in order to devote his time to what Franklin called “philosophical studies and amusements.” After seeing Spencer’s show, Franklin went out and purchased all the electrical equipment he could find, including a Leyden jar. Franklin also obtained a long glass tube for generating static charges, a gift from Peter Collinson, a botanist and fellow of the Royal Society of London. Collinson would quickly become Franklin’s most trusted correspondent in matters relating to electricity, a sounding board for emerging theories. The two men exchanged dozens of letters, and Franklin’s folksy, clear-headed descriptions of his experiments, which were later published, would demystify electricity for thousands. Once Franklin committed himself to learning everything he could about electricity, he could barely contain his excitement.
agricultural Revolution, British Empire, Climatic Research Unit, colonial rule, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Defenestration of Prague, Edmond Halley, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, failed state, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, friendly fire, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Khyber Pass, Mercator projection, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Republic of Letters, South China Sea, the market place, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, unemployed young men, University of East Anglia, World Values Survey
In 1648 the peace of Westphalia forbade ‘any person to impugn in any place, in publick or in private, by preaching, teaching, disputing, writing or consulting, the Transaction of Passau [of 1552], the Peace of Religion [of 1555], and, above all, the present declaration or transaction; or to render them doubtful’. Already in London, the group of scholars who would later become the first Fellows of the Royal Society had resolved upon a similar accommodation: from its ‘first ground and foundation’ in 1645, at their weekly meetings, members ‘barred all discourses of divinity, state-affairs, and of news … confining ourselves to philosophical inquiries’.63 Fifteen years later, on his return to England, Charles II followed their wise example and signed legislation that forbade the law courts to hear any suit arising from things ‘counselled, commanded, acted or done’ during ‘the late distractions’.
In a provocative article on the spread of ‘political arithmetic’ in seventeenth-century Europe, Jacob Soll has observed that ‘European states shared not only complex economic, military, political, social and spiritual crises but also comparable responses to them’ – and examples are not hard to find, from the ‘Cameralism’ of many German states, to later Stuart England, where Sir John Plumb underlined the envy of many of Charles II's ministers for what they perceived as the ‘systematic efficiency’ of their French counterparts. Many royal officials became Fellows of the Royal Society, because they ‘believed that the practical problems of life were best approached through knowledge’; and although their tunnel-vision often led them (like Vauban) ‘into absurdities’, by 1700 ‘Britain probably enjoyed the most efficient government machine in Europe’. There was more to political arithmetic in the seventeenth century than counting the reproductive potential of hogs.46 The Containment of Disease James Scott drew attention to another consequence of ‘seeing like a state’.
Everyone, they found, was ‘well acquainted with writings of all the learned and ingenious men’ of Europe, whether dead (such as Bacon, Harvey, Galileo and Descartes) or alive (they named Robert Boyle, Thomas Hobbes and Robert Hooke).61 The ‘Republic of Letters’ also included practitioners who lived east of the Elbe and south of the Pyrenees. The Danzig brewer and astronomer Johannes Hevelius, who in 1647 published the lavishly illustrated Selenographia, the first lunar atlas (see Plate 1), had studied at Leiden and met scholars in England and France; became a Fellow of the Royal Society; and welcomed Edmond Halley and other prominent scientists to his impressive observatory in Danzig. In Spain, Miguel Marcelino Boix y Moliner asserted in a book entitled Hippocrates illuminated (1716) that ‘the foreign doctors and philosophers of the last century’ had only managed to ‘make great advances’ thanks to plagiarizing their Spanish precursors. He singled out the work of ‘Gideon’ Harvey on the circulation of the blood, ‘Renato’ Descartes on philosophy, and Richard Morton on cinchona bark, all of whom (he claimed) had simply replicated the earlier research by Spanish scholars – three little-known examples of ‘contested multiples’.
Masterminds of Programming: Conversations With the Creators of Major Programming Languages by Federico Biancuzzi, Shane Warden
business intelligence, business process, cellular automata, cloud computing, complexity theory, conceptual framework, continuous integration, data acquisition, domain-specific language, Douglas Hofstadter, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Firefox, follow your passion, Frank Gehry, general-purpose programming language, HyperCard, information retrieval, iterative process, John von Neumann, linear programming, loose coupling, Mars Rover, millennium bug, NP-complete, Paul Graham, performance metric, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Renaissance Technologies, Silicon Valley, slashdot, software as a service, software patent, sorting algorithm, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, Turing complete, type inference, Valgrind, Von Neumann architecture, web application
He is the recipient of the ACM Software System Award (2006) and the first Dahl-Nygaard prize for object technology (2005), a fellow of the ACM, and a member of the French Academy of Technologies. Robin Milner graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1958. After short posts, he joined the University of Edinburgh in 1973, where he cofounded the Laboratory for Foundation of Computer Science in 1986. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1988, and in 1991 won the ACM’s AM Turing Award. He rejoined Cambridge University in 1995, headed the Computer Laboratory there for four years, and retired in 2001. His research achievements (often joint) include: the system LCF, a model that underlies many later systems for interactive reasoning; Standard ML, an industry-scale but rigorously based programming language; the Calculus of Communicating Systems (CCS); and the pi calculus.
An example of practice into theory: Featherweight Java specifies the core of Java in less than one page of rules. He is a principal designer of the Haskell programming language, contributing to its two main innovations: type classes and monads. Wadler is professor of theoretical computer science at the University of Edinburgh. He holds a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Fellowship, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is an ACM Fellow. Previously, he worked or studied at Avaya Labs, Bell Labs, Glasgow, Chalmers, Oxford, CMU, Xerox Parc, and Stanford, and lectured as a guest professor in Paris, Sydney, and Copenhagen. He appears at position 70 on Citeseers list of most-cited authors in computer science, is a winner of the POPL Most Influential Paper Award, served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Functional Programming, and served on the Executive Committee of the ACM Special Interest Group on Programming Languages.
Piracy : The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates by Adrian Johns
banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business intelligence, Corn Laws, demand response, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Marshall McLuhan, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pirate software, Republic of Letters, Richard Stallman, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, software patent, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, traveling salesman, Whole Earth Catalog
Neither body claimed any kind of “Monopoly,” he maintained; but they did “justly claim the Custody [respectively] of Natural Knowledg, and of the Health of Mankind.” Grew too was affirming an ideal of custodianship, deploying silence to mark the bounds. As with print, so with medicines: London did not lack for apothecaries prepared to issue their own proclaimed versions of a successful product. Two brothers named Francis and George Moult came forward to compete with Grew. They were by no means unknowns. George Moult was a fellow of the Royal Society, having first been proposed as its operator back in 1685. And in the background to their venture lay a tangled story of ambition and rivalry. At first, apparently, George had agreed to buy Grew’s salt legitimately. But Francis had sought to steal a march on George by securing a cheaper price for himself. Grew had refused, at which point Francis decided to make his own salt by “prying into Dr.
They proposed that a special court be convened solely to decide patent challenges (and perhaps those relating to copyright too). Such a court too was not in fact instituted, but the idea that it could be returned time and time again. But any such plan immediately posed the problem of who should sit on such a body. Judges and advisors would need to be at once impartial, objective, technically expert, and practical. Watt suggested a panel of three Fellows of the Royal Society and two artisans. Others advanced different combinations, and the question recurred incessantly. It gave rise to a sustained and very widely publicized set of exchanges on the qualifications, social role, and credibility required of anyone who could authoritatively decide such matters. Debates on the subject could be heard at mechanics’ institutes, chambers of commerce, and literary and philosophical societies across the land.
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce
When his father died, in 1827, Babbage inherited a fortune of £100,000. He briefly became an actuary for a new Protector Life Assurance Company and computed statistical tables rationalizing life expectancies. He tried to get a university professorship, so far unsuccessfully, but he had an increasingly lively social life, and in scholarly circles people were beginning to know his name. With Herschel’s help he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Even his misfires kindled his reputation. On behalf of The Edinburgh Journal of Science Sir David Brewster sent him a classic in the annals of rejection letters: “It is with no inconsiderable degree of reluctance that I decline the offer of any Paper from you. I think, however, you will upon reconsideration of the subject be of opinion that I have no other alternative. The subjects you propose for a series of Mathematical and Metaphysical Essays are so very profound, that there is perhaps not a single subscriber to our Journal who could follow them.”♦ On behalf of his nascent invention, Babbage began a campaign of demonstrations and letters.
Investigations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Kay, Lily E. Who Wrote the Book of Life: A History of the Genetic Code. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000. Kelly, Kevin. Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1994. Kendall, David G. “Andrei Nikolaevich Kolmogorov. 25 April 1903–20 October 1987.” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 37 (1991): 301–19. Keynes, John Maynard. A Treatise on Probability. London: Macmillan, 1921. Kneale, William. “Boole and the Revival of Logic.” Mind 57, no. 226 (1948): 149–75. Knuth, Donald E. “Ancient Babylonian Algorithms.” Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery 15, no. 7 (1972): 671–77. Kolmogorov, A. N. “Combinatorial Foundations of Information Theory and the Calculus of Probabilities.”
A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr
Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, Deng Xiaoping, Edmond Halley, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, framing effect, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, hindsight bias, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land tenure, law of one price, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, new economy, phenotype, price stability, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, the market place, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, ultimatum game, World Values Survey, Wunderkammern
The Royal Society was explicitly patterned after Bacon’s Salomon’s House, the fictional academy described in is New Atlantis.33 It started off with boundless enthusiasm for practical technical matters. “The business and design of the Royal Society is to improve the knowledge of naturall things, and all useful Arts, Manufactures, Mechanick practises, Engines, and Inventions by Experiments” (Lyons, 1944, p. 41).34 Robert Hooke added in his preface to the second edition of his Micrographia that the Fellows of the Royal Society “have one advantage peculiar to themselves, that very many of their number are men of converse and traffick, which is a good omen that their attempts will bring philosophy from words to action, seeing men of business have had so great a share in their first foundation” (Hooke, 1667, unpaginated preface). In 1666, the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres had a medal made in honor of the slightly younger Académie des Sciences with the slogan Naturae investigandae et perficiendis artibus (for the investigation of nature and technological competence).
By 1700 there were already 2,000 coffeehouses in London, many of which were sites of literary activity, discussions about natural philosophy, and political debates (Cowan, 2005). Coffeehouses remained important centers for the dissemination of knowledge and beliefs throughout the eighteenth century. Perhaps the most famous of these coffeehouse societies was the London Chapter Coffee House, the favorite of the fellows of the Royal Society, whose membership resembled (and overlapped with) the Birmingham Lunar Society.55 Masonic lodges, too, proved a locus for the exchange of scientific and technological information, even if that was not their primary mission.56 Public lectures on scientific and engineering subjects attracted a surprising number of attendants. Lecturers performed entertaining public experiments, in which electricity and magnetism played roles disproportionate to their economic significance, and their direct impact on the techniques in use at the time is questionable.57 What matters, however, is not whether there was any direct and immediate link from these cultural developments to economic change and the Industrial Revolution.
Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science by Michael Nielsen
Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, medical residency, Nicholas Carr, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, social web, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, University of East Anglia, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge
Almost immediately, the evidence released by the BCA was investigated and torn apart by an ad hoc group of science bloggers, acting on their own initiative. Here’s how the events were described in an article in The Lawyer written by Robert Dougans, a lawyer who acted for Singh in the case, and David Allen Green, a blogger who had been covering the case: In less than a day, the credibility of this evidence—and indeed that of the BCA for commending it—was destroyed. A dozen or so scientist-bloggers, including a Fellow of the Royal Society, were able to track down and assess each of the scientific papers cited by the BCA and were able to show beyond doubt that these papers did not support the BCA position at all. This was a stunning and devastating blogging exercise, and when it was formally repeated by the British Medical Journal a few weeks later it was almost an afterthought. The technical evidence of a claimant in a controversial case had simply been demolished—and seen to be demolished—but not by the conventional means of contrary expert evidence and expensive forensic cross-examination, but by specialist bloggers.
Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think by Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley
Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, bioinformatics, cognitive bias, computer age, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Haight Ashbury, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, loose coupling, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, phenotype, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Yogi Berra
Fisher, ‘The correlation between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian inheritance’, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 52 (1918): 399-433. 11 Fisher, The Genetical Theory of National Selection (1930). 12 A. W. F. Edwards, ‘The fundamental theorem of natural selection’, Biological Reviews, 69 (1994): 443-474. 13 A. Grafen, ‘Fisher the evolutionary biologist’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series D (The Statistican), 52 (2003): 319-329. 14 Hamilton, ‘The genetical evolution of social behaviour’ (1964). 15 A. Grafen, ‘William Donald Hamilton’, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 50 (2004): 109-132. 16 See Edwards, ‘The fundamental theorem of natural selection’ (1994) and Grafen, ‘Fisher the evolutionary biologist’ (2003). 17 A. Grafen, ‘The optimisation of inclusive fitness’, Journal of Theoretical Biology (2005). 18 R. L. Trivers and H. Hare, ‘Haplodiploidy and the evolution of the social insects’, Science, 191 (1976): 249-263. 19 R. Dawkins, The Extended Phenotype (Oxford: W.
The new village green: living light, living local, living large by Stephen Morris
back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cleantech, collective bargaining, Columbine, Community Supported Agriculture, computer age, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Firefox, index card, Indoor air pollution, invisible hand, Kevin Kelly, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Menlo Park, Negawatt, peak oil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review
To Lovelock, the stark contrast between the Martian atmosphere and the chemically dynamic mixture of our Earth’s biosphere was strongly indicative of the absence of life on the planet. However, when they were finally launched to Mars, the Viking probes still searched for life there. Lovelock invented the Electron Capture Detector, which ultimately assisted in discoveries about the persistence of CFCs and their role in stratospheric ozone depletion. He is also credited with invention of the microwave oven. Lovelock was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, and in 1990 was awarded the first Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for the Environment by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. An independent scientist, inventor, and author, Lovelock works out of a barn-turned-laboratory in Cornwall. In 2003 he was appointed a Companion of Honour (CH) by Queen Elizabeth II. 2 chapter 1 : The Gaia Hypothesis Zoe Weil is the author of The Power and Promise of Humane Education and Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times.
QI: The Book of General Ignorance - The Noticeably Stouter Edition by Lloyd, John, Mitchinson, John
Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Barry Marshall: ulcers, British Empire, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Fellow of the Royal Society, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, invention of the telephone, James Watt: steam engine, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, trade route, V2 rocket, Vesna Vulović
Ross was the first person to show how female mosquitoes transmit the Plasmodium parasite through their saliva. He tested his theory using birds. Manson went one better. To show that the theory worked for humans, he infected his own son – using mosquitoes carried in the diplomatic bag from Rome. (Fortunately, after an immediate dose of quinine, the boy recovered.) Ross won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902. Manson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, knighted and founded the London School of Tropical Medicine. There are 2,500 known species of mosquito, 400 of them are members of the Anopheles family, and, of these, 40 species are able to transmit malaria. The females use the blood they suck to mature their eggs, which are laid on water. The eggs hatch into aquatic larvae or ‘wrigglers’. Unlike most insects, the pupae of mosquitoes, known as ‘tumblers’, are active and swim about.
The Misbehavior of Markets by Benoit Mandelbrot
Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Brownian motion, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, carbon-based life, discounted cash flows, diversification, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Elliott wave, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, implied volatility, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market microstructure, new economy, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, stochastic volatility, transfer pricing, value at risk, volatility smile
The spot buyer [on an exchange] may be compared with a gambler. In effect, if the price of a security might increase after its purchase, a decrease is equally possible. 52 “In effect, prices follow…” An early reference to the random-walk concept appeared in 1905, in the letters pages of Nature, a British scientific journal. Under the headline, “The Problem of the Random Walk,” Karl Pearson, a professor and Fellow of the Royal Society, wrote to ask whether any readers could tell him “a solution of the following problem”:A man starts from a point O and walks l yards in a straight line; he then turns through any angle whatever and walks another l yards in a second straight line. He repeats this process n times. I require the probability that after n stretches he is at a distance between r and δr from his starting point, O.
A Devil's Chaplain: Selected Writings by Richard Dawkins
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Desert Island Discs, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, Necker cube, out of africa, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method
Eliot, who wrote that humankind cannot bear too much reality, Dawkins wants us to get real about the universe in which brief lives are set, because reality is liberating … This is the best book of sermons I have read for years. So please go on preaching to us, Reverend Dawkins, and don’t mind the things they throw at you. After all, prophets always get stoned’ Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh Professor Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned evolutionary biologist and author. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and holds the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His first book, The Selfish Gene (1976), was an instant international bestseller, and has become an established classic work of modern evolutionary biology. The Blind Watchmaker (1986), too, has become world-famous. His other works for the general public have each been highly successful. Latha Menon is an editorial consultant.
Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
Locate the mildly sloping path and, if you have unlimited time, the ascent is only as formidable as the next step. The story of Mount Improbable is, of course, a parable. We shall explore its meaning in this and the next chapters. The following is from a letter that The Times of London published a few years ago. The author, whose name I have withheld to spare embarrassment, is a physicist, regarded sufficiently highly by his peers to have been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, Britain’s most distinguished learned institution. Sir, I am one of the physical scientists…who doubt Darwin’s theory of evolution. My doubts arise not from any religious motive or desire to add fuel to either side of any controversy but merely because I think that Darwinism is scientifically indefensible. …We have no option but to accept evolution—all the fossil evidence points to it.
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Brownian motion, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour mobility, land reform, low skilled workers, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, offshore financial centre, oil shock, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transfer pricing, urban sprawl, World Values Survey
Citing Abraham Lincoln – the only US president to be issued a patent* – who said that ‘patent adds the fuel of interest to the fire of genius’, Harvey Bale, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations, asserted that ‘without [intellectual property rights] the private sector will not invest the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to develop new vaccines for AIDS and other infectious and non-infectious diseases.’4 Therefore, the drug companies went on to say, those who are criticizing the patent system (and other IPRs) are threatening the future supply of new ideas (not just drugs), undermining the very productivity of the capitalist system. The argument sounds reasonable enough, but it is only a half-truth. It is not as if we always have to ‘bribe’ clever people into inventing new things. Material incentives, while important, are not the only things that motivate people to invest in producing new ideas. At the height of the HIV/AIDS debate, 13 fellows of the Royal Society, the highest scientific society of the UK, put this point powerfully in an open letter to the Financial Times: ‘Patents are only one means for promoting discovery and invention. Scientific curiosity, coupled with the desire to benefit humanity, has been of far greater importance throughout history.’5 Countless researchers all over the world come up with new ideas all the time, even when they do not directly profit from them.
The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless by John D. Barrow
Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, cosmological principle, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, mutually assured destruction, Olbers’ paradox, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, short selling, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine
Music by Michel Legrand. Copyright © 1968 United Artists Music Co., Inc. Rights assigned to EMI U Catalog Inc. and Warner Bros. Publications U.S. Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Warner Bros. Publications U.S. Inc., Miami, Florida 33014. John D. Barrow THE INFINITE BOOK John D. Barrow is professor of mathematical sciences at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is also the author of The Book of Nothing, The Constants of Nature, Theories of Everything, and Impossibility. He lives in England. BY THE SAME AUTHOR Theories of Everything The Left Hand of Creation (with Joseph Silk) L’Homme et le Cosmos (with Frank J. Tipler) The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (with Frank J. Tipler) The World Within the World The Artful Universe Pi in the Sky Perchè il mondo è matematico?
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson
Collected Works of Count Rumford, edited by Sanbom Brown. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Salisbury, Harrison E. (1959). “Nixon and Khrushchev Argue in Public as U.S. Exhibit Opens.” NewYork Times, July 25. Samuel, Delwen (1999). “Bread Making and Social Interactions at the Amarna Workmen’s Village, Egypt.” World Archaeology, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 121–144. Sanders, J. H. (2000). “Nicholas Kurti C.B.E.” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, vol. 46, pp. 300–315. Scappi, Bartolomeo (2008). The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570), translated with commentary by Terence Scully. Toronto, University of Toronto Press. Scully, Terence (1995). The Art of Cookery in the Late Middle Ages. Woodbridge, Boydell. Segre, Gino (2002). Einsten’s Refrigerator: Tales of the Hot and Cold. London, Allen Lane. Seneca, Lucius Annaeus (2007).
Steampunk Prime: A Vintage Steampunk Reader by Mike Ashley, Paul Di Filippo
In “The Cloud-Men” (Munsey’s Magazine, August 1911) Earth is invaded by strange vapour-beings. There are plenty more, but perhaps the most original is the following, from The London Magazine for October 1904. — M.A. THE official Blue Books just published, as the result of the Royal Commission on the Plague of Lights, contain the evidence of some two hundred scientists, and an exhaustive report by the two peers, three M.P.’s, and four Fellows of the Royal Society, who formed the Commission, upon the terrible calamity that recently devastated the earth. It may seem presumptuous for me to add to the testimony of such authorities; but I notice that all the learned gentlemen who gave evidence either obtained their facts at second-hand (having themselves escaped the plague by flight or going into hiding), or confessed that during the actual attack their faculties were obscured.
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Brownian motion, correlation does not imply causation, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Mikhail Gorbachev, Project Plowshare, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, the scientific method, Yom Kippur War
But Fleischmann was correct; he had done the seemingly impossible. He had unwittingly discovered an effect that would be called surface-enhanced Raman scattering, a phenomenon that is now used in a variety of sensitive chemical detectors. Conventional wisdom was wrong and Fleischmann was right. The scientific community soon rewarded Fleischmann for his discovery. In the mid-1980s, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, the highest honor that Britain bestows upon its scientists. By the late 1980s, his reputation made him welcome at scientific institutions around the world. He spent most of his time hopping between laboratories at his home university in Southampton, the Harwell laboratory (of ZETA fame), and a lab at the University of Utah. Stanley Pons was the chair of the University of Utah’s chemistry department, and the two had a long history together.
Some Remarks by Neal Stephenson
airport security, augmented reality, barriers to entry, British Empire, cable laying ship, call centre, cellular automata, edge city, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Hacker Ethic, impulse control, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, music of the spheres, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shock, packet switching, pirate software, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social web, Socratic dialogue, South China Sea, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, X Prize
His unquestioned status as the greatest mind of his generation, combined with his political connections as Master of the Mint and his ruthlessness toward those he perceived as rivals, had given him an unusual degree of power. This he brought to bear against the only living person who could even hope to challenge his intellectual supremacy: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who despite being a foreigner (he was Hanoverian) had been made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1673, largely in recognition for his invention of the Stepped Reckoner, a mechanical computer. The contrasts between Newton and Leibniz were lavish. Newton seems to have had an entirely accurate sense of just how he compared to his contemporaries, and acted accordingly without concern for dusty precedents or the personal feelings of those who clung to them. When confronted with anything less than uncritical acceptance of his work, he lashed out and then secluded himself.
The Fear Index by Robert Harris
algorithmic trading, backtesting, banking crisis, dark matter, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, fixed income, Flash crash, high net worth, implied volatility, mutually assured destruction, Renaissance Technologies, speech recognition
His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. For his collaboration with Roman Polanski on the film version of The Ghost, he won both the French César and the European Film Award for best adapted screenplay. A graduate of Cambridge University, where he studied English, he joined the BBC and later wrote for the Observer, the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is married to Gill Hornby. They have four children and live in a village near Hungerford in West Berkshire. Also by Robert Harris FICTION Fatherland Enigma Archangel Pompeii Imperium The Ghost Lustrum NON-FICTION A Higher Form of Killing (with Jeremy Paxman) Gotcha! The Making of Neil Kinnock Selling Hitler Good and Faithful Servant To my family Gill, Holly, Charlie, Matilda, Sam Acknowledgements I WISH TO thank all those whose expertise, generously given, has made this book possible: first and foremost Neville Quie of Citi, who made many helpful suggestions and introductions and who, along with Cameron Small, patiently helped me through the labyrinth of shorts and out-of-the-money puts; Charles Scott, formerly of Morgan Stanley, who discussed the concept, read the manuscript and introduced me to Andre Stern of Oxford Asset Management, Eli Lederman, former CEO of Turquoise, and David Keetly and John Mansell of Polar Capital Alva Fund, all of whom provided useful insights; Leda Braga, Mike Platt, Pawel Lewicki and the algorithmic team at BlueCrest for their hospitality and for letting me spend a day watching them in action; Christian Holzer for his advice on the VIX; Lucie Chaumeton for fact-checking; Philippe Jabre of Jabre Capital Partners SA for sharing his knowledge of the financial markets; Dr Ian Bird, head of the Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid Project, for two conducted tours and insights into CERN in the 1990s; Ariane Koek, James Gillies, Christine Sutton and Barbara Warmbein of the CERN Press Office; Dr Bryan Lynn, an academic physicist who worked at both Merrill Lynch and CERN and who kindly described his experiences of moving between these different worlds; Jean-Philippe Brandt of the Geneva Police Department for giving me a tour of the city and answering my queries about police procedure; Dr Stephen Golding, Consultant Radiologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, for advising me on brain scans and putting me in touch with Professor Christoph Becker and Dr Minerva Becker who in turn helpfully arranged a tour of the Radiological Department of the University Hospital in Geneva.
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmological constant, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, lone genius, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics
Schroedinger: Einstein Theory of Relativity,” Irish Press, January 28, 1947, 5. 19. “Dublin Man Outdoes Einstein,” Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 1947, 13. 20. Erwin Schrödinger to Albert Einstein, February 3, 1947, Albert Einstein Duplicate Archive, 22-138. 21. “Science: Einstein Stopped Here,” Time, February 10, 1947. 22. John L. Synge, “Letter to the Editor,” Time, March 3, 1947. 23. Petros S. Florides, “John Lighton Synge,” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 54 (December 2008): 401. 24. Nichevo [R. M. Smyllie], “Higher Maths,” Irish Times, March 22, 1947, 7. 25. S. McC., “And Now Cosmic Physics,” Tuam Herald, April 12, 1947. 26. William L. Laurence to Albert Einstein, February 7, 1947, Albert Einstein Duplicate Archive, 22-141. 27. “Einstein Declines Comment,” New York Times, January 30, 1947. 28. “Einstein’s Theory Reportedly Widened,” New York Times, January 30, 1947. 29.
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Brownian motion, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, en.wikipedia.org, falling living standards, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial deregulation, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour mobility, land reform, low skilled workers, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, moral hazard, offshore financial centre, oil shock, price stability, principal–agent problem, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transfer pricing, urban sprawl, World Values Survey
Citing Abraham Lincoln – the only US president to be issued a patenti – who said that ‘patent adds the fuel of interest to the fire of genius’, Harvey Bale, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations, asserted that ‘without [intellectual property rights] the private sector will not invest the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to develop new vaccines for AIDS and other infectious and non-infectious diseases.’4 Therefore, the drug companies went on to say, those who are criticizing the patent system (and other IPRs) are threatening the future supply of new ideas (not just drugs), undermining the very productivity of the capitalist system. The argument sounds reasonable enough, but it is only a half-truth. It is not as if we always have to ‘bribe’ clever people into inventing new things. Material incentives, while important, are not the only things that motivate people to invest in producing new ideas. At the height of the HIV/AIDS debate, 13 fellows of the Royal Society, the highest scientific society of the UK, put this point powerfully in an open letter to the Financial Times: ‘Patents are only one means for promoting discovery and invention. Scientific curiosity, coupled with the desire to benefit humanity, has been of far greater importance throughout history.’5 Countless researchers all over the world come up with new ideas all the time, even when they do not directly profit from them.
Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, pets.com, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern
But mountaineering was effectively unknown as a skill, precisely because summits like Mont Blanc offered nothing useful or valuable to the humans gazing up at their peaks. Humans had navigated oceans, built canals, crossed deserts, but always because some reward (real or imagined) lay at the end of the journey. Climbing fifteen thousand feet of ice, snow, and rock with nothing to reward you but a sense of achievement made no sense—particularly when the mountains were rumored to be the habitat of monstrous creatures. As late as 1723 a Swiss fellow of the Royal Society published a detailed description of the dragons that lived in the Alps. De Saussure recognized that he didn’t have the skills and fortitude to discover a route to the top of Mont Blanc on his own, and so he offered a reward to the first climber to make the ascent. On August 8, 1786, the French climbers Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard reached the summit for the first time, and claimed de Saussure’s reward shortly thereafter.
Switched On: My Journey From Asperger's to Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison
For those reasons, and what he called “the sake of humanity,” Ferrier used anaesthesia “before and throughout” his experiments. However, that wasn’t enough to diffuse the public’s horror and outrage when word leaked out about his research. There was a tremendous outcry by antivivisectionists, but the importance of his work ultimately proved to be his defence. His 1874 paper and the work that followed established Ferrier as one of the great experimental neurologists, and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society three years later. Once that paper came out, it took less than two years for someone to try systematic electrical stimulation on a living human brain. Roberts Bartholow* was a well-respected physician at Cincinnati’s Medical College of Ohio. He believed first-person experimentation was the best way to advance knowledge of the brain. When he found himself presented with a rare opportunity—a thirty-year-old cancer patient whose skull had been perforated by a terminal cancerous ulcer—he was quick to act.
Women Leaders at Work: Untold Tales of Women Achieving Their Ambitions by Elizabeth Ghaffari
Albert Einstein, AltaVista, business process, cloud computing, Columbine, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, dark matter, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, follow your passion, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, high net worth, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, performance metric, pink-collar, profit maximization, profit motive, recommendation engine, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, thinkpad, trickle-down economics, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional
The letter said, “Your award will be sent to you.” The next thing I knew, I had to pick this package up at the US-Canadian border. They sent me a beautiful, black-lacquered captain's chair with an inlaid medal with my name and the award inserted in the back of the chair. That was very exciting. Everyone likes to be patted on the back. I still have the chair in my living room. Then again, to be named a fellow of the Royal Society is the highest honor that a Canadian scientist or scholar can have bestowed on them. So, obviously, that is very, very important to me. Finally, the other recognition was being invited to be a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives in New York because there are only around two hundred and fifty neuroscientists who are members from around the world. At the time I was asked to be a member, about 1997 or '98, there were only six Canadians, so that was exciting.
Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety by Marion Nestle
In this situation, the genetic engineering of a single nutrient or two into a food, while attractive in theory, raises many questions about its benefits in practice. In 2001, I sent a brief letter outlining these nutritional points to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.31 An electronic copy appeared on the Internet and drew responses from colleagues around the world. A British scientist (who identified himself as a Fellow of the Royal Society) wrote, “It would seem to me that the simplest way to find out if vitamin A rice [sic] works as a vitamin supplement is to try it out. If it doesn’t then what has been lost except a lot of hot air and propaganda; on the other hand if it does work and your letter has delayed its introduction, could you face the children who remain blind for life as a consequence?” The writer seems to suggest that even if beta-carotene contributes just a little to alleviating vitamin A deficiency, no questioning of the theoretical premise of Golden Rice—and, by implication, food biotechnology—is acceptable.
Day We Found the Universe by Marcia Bartusiak
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, Copley Medal, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, horn antenna, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Occam's razor, Pluto: dwarf planet, Solar eclipse in 1919, William of Occam
So passionate was his commitment to astronomy that his younger sister, Caroline, who had earlier joined him in England, fed him morsels of food by hand, so that he would not have to pause while grinding and polishing. Pointing his home-built instruments toward the sky, he came to memorize the heavens and in 1781 climactically spotted Uranus, the first planet discovered since the dawn of history. He was promptly elected a fellow of the Royal Society and procured an annual stipend from England's King George III, a pension that at last allowed Herschel to devote himself to his astronomical interests, especially building ever-larger telescopes (the largest he ever constructed was forty feet long). Herschel was far ahead of his time, as he used his telescope to examine the universe much the way an astronomer would today. While other astronomers in his day focused solely on the motions of the stars and planets, he was determined to discern nothing less than the “construction of the heavens,” the title of one of his most notable papers.
Empire Lost: Britain, the Dominions and the Second World War by Andrew Stewart
., Churchill to Caldecote, 2 October 1940; he would now be the Lord Chancellor's effective deputy, serving as the second most senior judge in the country after Lord Simon. 70 Diary, 31 October 1940, Lord Woolton Papers (Bodleian Library, Oxford), M. S. Woolton. 71 Duncan to Lady Selbourne, 8 October 1940, Duncan Papers. 72 A. R. Peters, Anthony Eden at the Foreign Office, 1931-1938 (New York, 1986), pp. 258-60; Lord Todd, 'Robert Arthur James Gascoyne Cecil, Fifth Marquess of Salisbury, 1893-1972', Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Vol. 19; Dec. 1973), pp. 621-7. 73 Amery to Smuts, 16 October 1940, cited in Jean Van der Poel (ed.), Smuts Papers, Vol. 6 (Cambridge, 1973), p. 256; Pimlott, Diary of Hugh Dalton, p. 53; 'Neville [Chamberlain] was in a rage yesterday and in the morning whilst he was going over questions he delivered himself of an angry tirade against the "Glamour Boys". More particularly, Bobbety Cranborne who is the most dangerous of the lot.
The television film of the book, shown in the Horizon series, won the Sci-Tech Prize for the Best Science Programme of 1987. He has also won the 1989 Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London and the 1990 Royal Society Michael Faraday Award for the furtherance of the public understanding of science. In 1994 he won the Nakayama Prize for Human Science and in 1995 was awarded an Honorary D.Litt. by the University of St Andrews and by the National University, Canberra. In 1997 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and won the Cosmos International Prize. To my parents PENGUIN BOOKS THE BLIND WATCHMAKER ‘The most brilliant contemporary preacher of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution … Dawkins has done it again and defended modern Darwinist orthodoxy with wit and passion’ Daily Telegraph ‘A lovely book, original and lively, it expounds the ins and outs of evolution with enthusiastic clarity, answering, at every point, the cavemen of creationism’ Isaac Asimov ‘It succeeds quite brilliantly.
Investment: A History by Norton Reamer, Jesse Downing
Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Brownian motion, buttonwood tree, California gold rush, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, colonial rule, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, equity premium, estate planning, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, fixed income, Gordon Gekko, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, index fund, interest rate swap, invention of the telegraph, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, land tenure, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, Louis Bachelier, margin call, means of production, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Own Your Own Home, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, statistical arbitrage, technology bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, underbanked, Vanguard fund, working poor, yield curve
The insurers, however, were far from pleased by this and concocted a rather creative legal defense, claiming that the insurance contract was for 12 months, and because the shortest month has 28 days, the contract was really for only 336 days, not 365 days, and thus they were not responsible for the claim. In the end, the court recognized the absurdity of this defense and the insurers were held liable, but the episode speaks to how nascent and often ill deﬁned ﬁnancial responsibilities in the insurance industry were at the time.34 While simple term life insurance had existed for some time, in 1756 the English mathematician and Fellow of the Royal Society James Dodson devised the level premium plan that allowed policyholders to pay a ﬂat premium, and, in turn, they would receive coverage for their entire lives. With this idea, James Dodson became the father of whole life insurance. He created this system after he himself had applied for life insurance coverage from the Amicable Society, a group offering insurance chartered by Queen Anne in 1706, but was denied for being too old.
Computer: A History of the Information Machine by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Nathan L. Ensmenger, Jeffrey R. Yost
Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, Byte Shop, card file, cashless society, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer age, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, garden city movement, Grace Hopper, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the wheel, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, pirate software, popular electronics, prediction markets, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the market place, Turing machine, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, young professional
She later repaid Babbage by writing the best nineteenth-century account of his Analytical Engine. Babbage never built a full-scale Difference Engine because in 1833 he abandoned it for a new invention, the Analytical Engine, the chief work on which his fame in the history of computing rests. He was at that time at the very height of his powers: Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, Fellow of the Royal Society, one of the leading lights in scientific London, and author of the most influential economics book of the 1830s, the Economy of Manufactures. As important as the Difference Engine had been, it was fundamentally a limited conception in that all it could do was produce mathematical tables. By contrast, the Analytical Engine would be capable of any mathematical computation. The idea of the Analytical Engine came to Babbage when he was considering how to eliminate human intervention in the Difference Engine by feeding back the results of a computation, which he referred to as the engine “eating its own tail.”
The Difference Engine by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
If you would come with me, please." Mallory led her toward the stands, through a torrent of people, limping a bit. As they walked, she seemed to recover herself somewhat. Her gloved hand rested on his forearm as lightly as a cobweb. Mallory waited for a break in the hubbub. He found one at last beneath the whiled pillars of the stands. "May I introduce myself, ma'am? My name is Edward Mallory. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society; a paleontologist." "The Royal Society," the woman muttered absently, her veiled head nodding like a flower on a stalk. She seemed to murmur something further. "I beg your pardon?" "The Royal Society! We have sucked the life-blood from the mysteries of the universe . . . " Mallory stared. "The fundamental relations in the science of harmony," the woman continued, in a voice of deep gentility, great weariness, and profound calm, "are susceptible to mechanical expression, allowing the composition of elaborate and scientific pieces of music, of any degree of complexity or extent."
Big Bang by Simon Singh
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, V2 rocket, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam
Crucially, the contraction phase compresses the outer layer of the star, which causes it to become more opaque, resulting in the dimming phase of the Cepheid. Although Goodricke was unaware of the explanation behind the variability of Cepheids, the discovery of this new type of star was in itself a great achievement. At the age of just twenty-one, a new honour was bestowed on him: he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. Then, just fourteen days later, the life of this brilliant young astronomer was cut short. Goodricke died of pneumonia, contracted during long freezing nights spent staring at the stars. His friend and collaborator Pigott lamented: ‘This worthy young man exists no more; he is not only regretted to many friends, but will prove a loss to astronomy, as the discoveries he so rapidly made evince.’
Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
After the war he travelled in Arabia, Kurdistan, the Marshes of Iraq, the Hindu Kush, the Karakorams, Morocco, Abyssinia, Kenya and Tanganyika, always on foot or with animal transport. In recognition of his journeys he received the Founder’s Gold Medal from the Royal Geographical Society, the Lawrence of Arabia Medal from the Royal Central Asian Society, the Livingstone Gold Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Burton Memorial Medal from the Royal Asiatic Society. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy. In 1968 he received the CBE, and a knighthood in 1995. In his two greatest books, Arabian Sands and The Marsh Arabs, he gives a vivid account of a way of life which, until recently, had continued for thousands of years. The Marsh Arabs, which won the 1964 W. H. Heinemann Award, is also published in Penguin Classics. Wilfred Thesiger’s other books include Desert, Marsh and Mountain: The World of a Nomad, his autobiography, The Life of My Choice, and Visions of a Nomad.
Darwin Among the Machines by George Dyson
Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, Danny Hillis, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, IFF: identification friend or foe, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, phenotype, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, spectrum auction, strong AI, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture
., The Friends’ Ambulance Unit 1914–1919: A Record (London: Swarthmore Press, 1920), 212. 7.Stapledon, “Experiences,” 362. 8.Olaf Stapledon to Agnes Miller, 22 October 1918, in Crossley, Talking Across the World, 332. 9.Stapledon, “Experiences,” 372. 10.Olaf Stapledon to Agnes Miller, 26 December 1917, in Crossley, Talking Across the World, 264–265. 11.Lewis Richardson, as quoted by Ernest Gold, “Lewis Fry Richardson, 1881–1953,” Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 9 (November 1954): 230. 12.Olaf Stapledon to Agnes Miller, 12 January 1918, in Crossley, Talking Across the World, 270. 13.Lewis Fry Richardson, Weather Prediction by Numerical Process (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1922; facsimile reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1965), 219. 14.Olaf Stapledon to Agnes Miller, 8 December 1916, in Crossley, Talking Across the World, 192–193. 15.Olaf Stapledon, Death into Life (London: Methuen, 1946); reprinted in Olaf Stapledon, Worlds of Wonder: Three Tales of Fantasy (Los Angeles: Fantasy Publishing Co., 1949), 130 (page citation is to the reprint edition). 16.Olaf Stapledon, The Star Maker (London: Methuen, 1937); reprinted in Last and First Men & Star Maker (New York: Dover Publications, 1968), 263–264. 17.Stapledon, Last and First Men, 119. 18.Ibid., 117–118. 19.Ibid., 118. 20.Ibid., 129. 21.Ibid., 142. 22.Frederic W.
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths
4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, constrained optimization, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, diversification, double helix, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, first-price auction, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Henri Poincaré, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, Lao Tzu, linear programming, martingale, Nash equilibrium, natural language processing, NP-complete, P = NP, packet switching, prediction markets, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert X Cringely, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, sorting algorithm, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, urban planning, Vickrey auction, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator
Between those two events we have a bit more certainty. The son of a minister, Bayes went to the University of Edinburgh to study theology, and was ordained like his father. He had mathematical as well as theological interests, and in 1736 he wrote an impassioned defense of Newton’s newfangled “calculus” in response to an attack by Bishop George Berkeley. This work resulted in his election in 1742 as a Fellow of the Royal Society, to whom he was recommended as “a Gentleman … well skilled in Geometry and all parts of Mathematical and Philosophical Learning.” After Bayes died in 1761, his friend Richard Price was asked to review his mathematical papers to see if they contained any publishable material. Price came upon one essay in particular that excited him—one he said “has great merit, and deserves to be preserved.”
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Brownian motion, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, clean water, Copley Medal, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers
No one had ever thought before to consider an astronomical explanation for variations in Earth's weather. Thanks almost entirely to Croll's persuasive theory, people in Britain began to become more responsive to the notion that at some former time parts of the Earth had been in the grip of ice. When his ingenuity and aptitude were recognized, Croll was given a job at the Geological Survey of Scotland and widely honored: he was made a fellow of the Royal Society in London and of the New York Academy of Science and given an honorary degree from the University of St. Andrews, among much else. Unfortunately, just as Agassiz's theory was at last beginning to find converts in Europe, he was busy taking it into ever more exotic territory in America. He began to find evidence for glaciers practically everywhere he looked, including near the equator.
airport security, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, Donald Trump, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, Freestyle chess, fudge factor, George Akerlof, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, high batting average, housing crisis, income per capita, index fund, Internet Archive, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, locking in a profit, Loma Prieta earthquake, market bubble, Mikhail Gorbachev, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, Nate Silver, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pets.com, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, savings glut, security theater, short selling, Skype, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons
It is not even clear that anybody knows what Bayes looked like; the portrait of him that is commonly used in encyclopedia articles may have been misattributed.19 What is in relatively little dispute is that Bayes was born into a wealthy family, possibly in the southeastern English county of Hertfordshire. He traveled far away to the University of Edinburgh to go to school, because Bayes was a member of a Nonconformist church rather than the Church of England, and was banned from institutions like Oxford and Cambridge.20 Bayes was nevertheless elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society despite a relatively paltry record of publication, where he may have served as a sort of in-house critic or mediator of intellectual debates. One work that most scholars attribute to Bayes—although it was published under the pseudonym John Noon21—is a tract entitled “Divine Benevolence.”22 In the essay, Bayes considered the age-old theological question of how there could be suffering and evil in the world if God was truly benevolent.
Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol by Iain Gately
barriers to entry, British Empire, California gold rush, delayed gratification, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haight Ashbury, Hernando de Soto, imperial preference, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Louis Pasteur, megacity, music of the spheres, Peace of Westphalia, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, strikebreaker, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, traveling salesman, Upton Sinclair, V2 rocket, working poor
—Benjamin Franklin, “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One,” London Public Advertiser, September 11, 1773 In 1762, Benjamin Franklin returned to Pennsylvania after a five-year stay in London. In contrast to his first visit, when he had worked as a jobbing printer and had been teased for being a water-drinking American, this time he had traveled as the official representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly to petition the king on its behalf. He was, moreover, a celebrated Enlightenment figure, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society, whose experiments with electricity had won him fame throughout Europe. The petition he had been appointed to present related to taxes imposed on Pennsylvania to support the cost of the Seven Years’ War, which were considered by the Pennsylvania Assembly to be inequitable. This was not the only point of difference between Britain and its American settlements to have emerged during the French and Indian War, as it was known in the colonies, whose prosecution had also aggravated preexisting disagreements.
Travels in West Africa by Mary Henrietta Kingsley
There can be little doubt that the very earliest human beings found, as their descendants still find, their plans frustrated, let them plan ever so wisely and carefully; they must have seen their companions overtaken by death and disaster, arising both from things they could see and from things they could not see. The distinction between these two classes of phenomena is not so definitely recognised by savages or animals as it is by the more cultured races of humanity. I doubt whether a savage depends on his five senses alone to teach him what the world is made of, any more than a Fellow of the Royal Society does. From this method of viewing nature I feel sure that the general idea arose — which you find in all early cultures — that death was always the consequence of the action of some malignant spirit, and that there is no accidental or natural death, as we call it; and death is, after all, the most impressive attribute of life. If a man were knocked on the head with a club, or shot with an arrow, the cause of death is clearly the malignancy of the person using these weapons; and so it is easy to think that a man killed by a fallen tree, or by the upsetting of a canoe in the surf, or in an eddy in the river, is also the victim of some being using these things as weapons.
Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
affirmative action, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, asset allocation, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, John von Neumann, linear programming, market clearing, New Journalism, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, RAND corporation, Simon Kuznets, the scientific method
His first book, I May Be Some Time, won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 1996, the Banff Mountain Book Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. His second, The Child That Books Built, gave Neil Gaiman ’the peculiar feeling that there was now a book I didn’t need to write’. His third, Backroom Boys, was called ’as nearly perfect as makes no difference’ by the Daily Telegraph and was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College and lives near Cambridge. By the Same Author THE CHATTO BOOK OF CABBAGES AND KINGS: Lists in Literature THE CHATTO BOOK OF THE DEVIL CULTURAL BABBAGE: Technology, Time and Invention (with Jenny Uglow) I MAY BE SOME TIME: Ice and the English Imagination THE CHILD THAT BOOKS BUILT BACKROOM BOYS: The Secret Return of the British Boffin Copyright First published in 2010 by Faber and Faber Ltd Bloomsbury House 74–77 Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DA This ebook edition first published in 2010 All rights reserved © Francis Spufford, 2010 The right of Francis Spufford to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law.
Heaven's Command (Pax Britannica) by Jan Morris
British Empire, Cape to Cairo, centralized clearinghouse, Corn Laws, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scramble for Africa, trade route
Not only was it the Corcyra of the ancients, but it was also the place where Lord Guilford himself, in 1791, had been received into the Greek Orthodox Church. For this civilized man, Eton and Christ Church, and a son of the Lord North who had lost the American empire, was a genuine cosmopolitan. De Quincey once called him ‘a semi-delirious Lord’, but he spoke six languages, wrote poems in classical Greek, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society. He had been the first British Governor of Ceylon, a post he found uncomfortably beyond even his varied capacities, and ever since the British acquisition of the Ionians he had devoted his energies to the idea of the university. It was founded in 1824, with Guilford as its President. He lavished upon it books, scientific equipment, manuscripts and works of art, and for a time it really was the prime centre of higher learning in the Greek-speaking world.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
clean water, Colonization of Mars, Danny Hillis, double helix, epigenetics, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, kremlinology, Kuiper Belt, microbiome, phenotype, Potemkin village, pre–internet, random walk, remote working, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, the scientific method, Tunguska event, zero day, éminence grise
My great-great-great-great-uncle John Aitken was an eccentric Victorian meteorologist with an even more eccentric hobby: studying the physics of moving chains. Unfortunately for him, he had to do it in his drawing room in Falkirk, where there is, I’m sorry to say, gravity. He had to approximate this sort of thing”—Rhys nodded at the whirring loop of chain—“by building exceedingly clever machines.” “Then he must have been a clever man indeed.” “Fellow of the Royal Society and friend of Lord Kelvin, since you mentioned it. Do you see where I’m going?” “Well, a minute ago you gave me a fat clue by suggesting that I turn off all of the motors in the Siwi train. Were I to do that, it would go completely limp and become, for all practical purposes, a length of chain.” “Yes,” Rhys drawled, and poked an index finger up into the chain’s path. It caught on his knuckle, hiccupped, and suddenly wrapped around his hand in a chaotic tangle.