The Atom in the History of Human Thought

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9780195150407: The Atom in the History of Human Thought

The concept of the atom is very near scientific bedrock, touching first causes, fundamental principles, our conception of the nature of reality. This book is a translation from the French of a history of atomic thought and theory, from ancient Greece to the present day. Pullman grounds his coverage of scientific theory always in the religious and philosophical context of the times, covering the whole period of Western civilization, including in passing the major scientific philosophies of the Muslim world and India. The transition of atomism from a philosophical position to an experimental science, in the mid-19th century, is well handled, and the coverage is nicely rounded out by a treatment of the first visual proof of atoms' material existence by direct microscopic imaging of individual atoms, about ten years ago.

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Review:

What's the matter? This was no trivial question for Democritus, generally considered the father of the atom. Like his fellow philosophers in ancient Greece, he was gravely concerned with discovering the nature of the universe through reason and argument, and hence wanted to understand the basic composition of material things. His postulate, that there are minuscule, indivisible units of matter, was revolutionary and resisted by many scientists until the early 20th century.

The late Dr. Bernard Pullman, former professor of quantum chemistry at the Sorbonne, presents a challenging, broad-ranging history of this seemingly simple idea in The Atom in the History of Human Thought. The language is remarkably clear, thanks in part to the translation of Axel Reisinger; there are no awkward phrasings or unfamiliar idioms to puzzle the reader. Instead we are told the life story of an idea, one so basic to our modern understanding of the world as to seem almost obvious.

But, as Pullman shows us, it was not only resisted but actively suppressed for centuries. From the often-bizarre notions of the ancients (could the universe really be made only of water?) to the equally bizarre concepts of modern atomic theory (is your chair really composed almost entirely of empty space?), with occasional forays into the science of the Islamic and Hindu worlds, he shows many attempts to answer the most fundamental question in science and philosophy. With such a long and controversial history, it's little wonder that we still haven't set matter straight. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:


Bernard Pullman was Professor of Quantum Chemistry at the Sorbonne and Director of the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique. He died in 1996. Axel Reisinger is a Senior Principal Physicist at Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company. He lives in Amherst, New Hampshire.

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Pullman, Bernard
Editorial: Oxford Univ Pr, Cary, North Carolina, U.S.A. (2001)
ISBN 10: 0195150406 ISBN 13: 9780195150407
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Renaissance Books
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Descripción Oxford Univ Pr, Cary, North Carolina, U.S.A., 2001. Soft cover. Estado de conservación: New. No Jacket. First US Paper. Panoramic overview of the concept of the atom, from Greek philosophers such as Democritus and Empedocles to the modern view of physicists including Werner Heisenberg and Richard Feynman. Brings the story to the first direct visual proof of the atom's existence. Notes, Index. Nº de ref. de la librería 015830

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Bernard Pullman
Editorial: Oxford University Press (2001)
ISBN 10: 0195150406 ISBN 13: 9780195150407
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Descripción Oxford University Press, 2001. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería 0195150406

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Bernard Pullman, Axel R. Reisinger (Translator)
Editorial: Oxford University Press, USA (2001)
ISBN 10: 0195150406 ISBN 13: 9780195150407
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Descripción Oxford University Press, USA, 2001. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería DADAX0195150406

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Bernard Pullman
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Descripción Oxford University Press, 2001. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería P110195150406

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Pullman, Bernard
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ISBN 10: 0195150406 ISBN 13: 9780195150407
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Descripción Oxford University Press. PAPERBACK. Estado de conservación: New. 0195150406 New Condition. Nº de ref. de la librería NEW6.0074776

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