Evelyn Shaw

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 655

In Triumphs of Modern Science, by Melvin Berger …, there is emphasis on the individual's participation in scientific discoveries. (Actually, I would like to know what prompted some of the inclusions as part of modern science, unless by "modern" the author means anything between 1900 and 1960.)

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Each chapter is a biography of the scientist identified with a particular discovery, and includes the histories of penicillin, viruses, antibiotics, X-rays, DNA, radioactivity, and relativity. I like the human element in this type of reporting, because I think that young readers can relate to it and see the possibilities that exist for their own achievements in science studies. However, I wish the author had emphasized somewhere that many discoveries are not made suddenly, but usually have, as a foundation, years of work carried out by many people and leading to one individual's spectacular "breakthrough." (p. 17)

Evelyn Shaw, in Natural History (copyright © the American Museum of Natural History, 1965; reprinted with permission from Natural History), November, 1965.

A science book with the humanities reader in mind, [Famous Men of Modern Biology] investigates the work of fourteen biologists from Pasteur to the Double Helix duo…. [Each chapter develops] some personality through anecdotes, such as the preoccupied Salk assuring his neglected wife, "My dear, I'm giving you my undevoted attention." Mr. Berger does for biology what Bernard Jaffe did for chemistry in Crucibles; the two are similar in style of presentation, selection of known names …, and the ability to relate the technical in relevant, stimulating terms…. (p. 468)

Kirkus Service (copyright © 1968 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), April 15, 1968.

In [Famous Men of Modern Biology] the author presents the story of the remarkable accomplishments and discoveries of 14 researchers in the biological sciences…. The biographies tend to be superficial, as would be expected in a collection of this sort. The book might be useful for introducing younger readers to more detailed biographies of the scientists. For this reason, it is especially unfortunate that the author included no bibliographies. (pp. 118-19)

Science Books (copyright 1968 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science), Vol. 4, No. 2 (September, 1968).

[For Good Measure] more clearly belongs on the science bookshelf than do most which deal with measurement, a reflection not of its relative quality—although it is a fine book—but of the fact that others get so involved with numbers and scales and the rationale for standardized measures that little time is left to explore the scientific uses of measurement. Here the organization is around areas such as sound, electricity and magnetism, light and radiation, though there are chapters on such standard topics as mass, length and time. Each unit is treated historically…. Thus a great deal of scientific development in the fields is covered in exploring the changing nature of measuring. In contrast, a more common approach such as [Philip B.] Carona's (in Things That Measure) offers simply a historical outline of devices. (p. 318)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1969 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), March 15, 1969.

[Few] laymen know the history of the development of standardized weights and measures, and for them Mr. Berger has supplied a complete, readable and not-too-technical little book [For Good Measure: The Story of Modern Measurement]. The introductory portion traces the genesis of measurement as a long historical process, first by describing the concepts of magnitude or dimension conveyed by man's natural senses…. The book goes on step by step beyond the internationally accepted and adopted basic standards of length, weight and mass, to discuss some of the modern concepts and methods in metrology…. An appreciation is developed for the fact that absolute accuracy in measurement has not been and may never be achieved…. Here and there interesting experiments are suggested which should interest many young people—would that there were more. Additional illustrations would have enriched a factually correct but occasionally dry text…. It is good collateral study material as well as for general reading. (p. 104)

Science Books (copyright 1969 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science), Vol. 5, No. 2 (September, 1969).

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Harold F. Desmond, Jr.