Happy birthday to Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution by natural selection is central to our understanding of life on Earth. To celebrate, we thought it might be interesting to look at two books by scientists whose lives and work were interwoven with his, and who, along with hundreds of other researchers and observers, contributed to the development of his great theory.
The first is Leonard Jenyns (1800-1893), who was considered a “patriarch of natural history studies in Great Britain” (ODNB), and who made a decision that would dramatically change the course of Darwin's career.
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Dying at age 38 is a tragedy for anyone, but it is a double tragedy when that person is potentially a Nobel Prize winner with many more years of productive science ahead of them. When biochemist Rosalind Franklin died of ovarian cancer in 1958, only a few years after her work contributed to the discovery of the structure of DNA, her mother was distraught not only for the loss of a child but for the international recognition that her daughter had not achieved in life. The result of her grief was this touching autobiographical sketch, Rosalind, published privately a few years later, ostensibly for the much-loved nieces and nephews who would grow up with only dim memories of their aunt.View full article →
This first edition of Richard Feynman's The Theory of Fundamental Processes is from the library of the pioneering female physicist Nina Byers (1930-2014), who made important contributions to particle physics and superconductivity and had a humorous personal connection with Feynman, earning her a mention in Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman.View full article →
Today's featured book is a wonderful find - a volume given to a student by the famous physicist William Thomson, Baron Kelvin. Though Thomson is best known today for his groundbreaking work on energy and heat, including the development of the temperature scale that bears his name, he also had an important career as a teacher, and this book is inscribed to one of his physics students at the University of Glasgow.View full article →
An important and highly desirable presentation copy of John Herschel's southern star atlas, a key astronomical work.View full article →