Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe

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Simon and Schuster, May 14, 2013 - Science - 352 pages
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Drawing on the lives of five great scientists, this “scholarly, insightful, and beautifully written book” (Martin Rees, author of From Here to Infinity) illuminates the path to scientific discovery.

Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein all made groundbreaking contributions to their fields—but each also stumbled badly. Darwin’s theory of natural selection shouldn’t have worked, according to the prevailing beliefs of his time. Lord Kelvin gravely miscalculated the age of the earth. Linus Pauling, the world’s premier chemist, constructed an erroneous model for DNA in his haste to beat the competition to publication. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle dismissed the idea of a “Big Bang” origin to the universe (ironically, the caustic name he gave to this event endured long after his erroneous objections were disproven). And Albert Einstein speculated incorrectly about the forces of the universe—and that speculation opened the door to brilliant conceptual leaps. As Mario Livio luminously explains in this “thoughtful meditation on the course of science itself” (The New York Times Book Review), these five scientists expanded our knowledge of life on earth, the evolution of the earth, and the evolution of the universe, despite and because of their errors.

“Thoughtful, well-researched, and beautifully written” (The Washington Post), Brilliant Blunders is a wonderfully insightful examination of the psychology of five fascinating scientists—and the mistakes as well as the achievements that made them famous.
 

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BRILLIANT BLUNDERS: From Darwin to Einstein: Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists that Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Astrophysicist and popular science writer Livio (Is God a Mathematician?, 2009, etc.) delivers entertaining accounts of how five celebrated scientists went wrong.Darwin proposed that if one individual ... Read full review

Contents

Preface
1
The Origin
12
Yea All Which It Inherit Shall Dissolve
37
How Old Is the Earth?
60
Certainty Generally Is Illusion
84
Interpreter of Life
103
Whose DNA Is It Anyway?
136
B for Big Bang
157
9
168
The Biggest Blunder
221
11
246
Notes
273
Bibliography
303
Index
327
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About the author (2013)

Mario Livio is an internationally known astrophysicist, a bestselling author, and a popular speaker who has appeared on The Daily Show60 Minutes, and NOVA. He is the author of the national bestseller Brilliant Blunders and other books. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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