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Pendulum

Leon Foucault and the Triumph of Science

Amir D. Aczel

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

In 1851, struggling, self-taught physicist Léon Foucault performed a dramatic demonstration inside the Panthéon in Paris. By tracking a pendulum's path as it swung repeatedly across the interior of the large ceremonial hall, Foucault offered the first definitive proof -- before an audience that comprised the cream of Parisian society, including the future emperor, Napoleon III -- that the earth revolves on its axis.

Through careful, primary research, world-renowned author Amir Aczel has revealed the life of a gifted physicist who had almost no formal education in science, and yet managed to succeed despite the adversity he suffered at the hands of his peers. The range and breadth of Foucault's discoveries is astonishing: He gave us the modern electric compass, devised an electric microscope, invented photographic technology, and made remarkable deductions about color theory, heat waves, and the speed of light. Yet until now so little has been known about his life.

Richly detailed and evocative, Pendulum tells of the illustrious period in France during the Second Empire; of Foucault's relationship with Napoleon III, a colorful character in his own right; and -- most notably -- of the crucial triumph of science over religion.

Dr. Aczel has crafted a fascinating narrative based on the life of this most astonishing and largely unrecognized scientist, whose findings answered many age-old scientific questions and posed new ones that are still relevant today.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 19, 2003 – Aczel, one of our best science popularizers (Fermat's Last Theorem; The Mystery of the Aleph; etc.), now recounts the triumphs and struggles of the French physicist Léon Foucault (1819–1868), whose eponymous pendulum presented the first tangible proof of the earth's rotation. Aczel follows Foucault from his beginnings as a medical student and a science journalist covering the meetings of the august French Academy of Sciences to his installation as the official physicist attached to the Imperial Observatory in Paris and his belated election to the Academy of Sciences, finally overcoming the resistance of those who saw as an outsider this genius with no formal academic training. Foucault is portrayed as a wide-ranging thinker, fascinated with questions from the speed of light to the construction of the first gyroscope, but at the center of this account is his 1851 invention and demonstration of his famed pendulum. The author's transitions from narrative to scientific exposition can be a bit rough, but every time the pace begins to drag, he veers off in a new direction, drawing connections between Foucault's work and broader scientific, political and philosophical trends and themes. Aczel's material is so intriguing that one is inclined to forgive his habit of pursuing tangents. The reader is left with a choppy yet fascinating survey of Parisian science during the Second Empire and Léon Foucault's grudgingly rewarded place in it. Illus.
Pendulum
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Nov 01, 2007
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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