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Careful Mismanagement

J.L. Heilbron, 11 January 1990

Multiple Exposures: Chronicles of the Radiation Age 
by Catherine Caufield.
Secker, 304 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 436 09478 9
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The Demise of Nuclear Energy? Lessons for Democratic Control of Technology 
by Joseph Morone and Edward Woodhouse.
Yale, 172 pp., £20, May 1989, 0 300 04448 8
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... Are your teeth false? The uranium in each of them may brighten your smile with about ten times the radiation you get from the natural background, from cosmic rays attacking from above and radon and its decay products attacking from below. Do you wear corrective lenses? They may add to the flash of your eye a radiation five times the natural background level ...

Hven’s Gate

J.L. Heilbron: Tycho Brahe, 2 November 2000

On Tycho’s Island: Tycho Brahe and His Assistants, 1570-1601 
by John Robert Christianson.
Cambridge, 451 pp., £30, March 2000, 9780521650816
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... should turn to Victor Thoren’s The Lord of Uraniborg: A Biography of Tycho Brahe (1990) or to J.L.E. Dreyer’s Tycho Brahe: A Picture of Scientific Life and Work in the 16th Century (1890, reprinted 1977). What made Tycho a world-historical figure was his involuntary exile to Prague. There his great registers of observations fell into the hands of a man ...

Careful Readers

J.L. Heilbron: A Copernican monomaniac, 22 September 2005

The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus 
by Owen Gingerich.
Arrow, 320 pp., £7.99, July 2005, 0 09 947644 4
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... Owen Gingerich’s The Book Nobody Read is an engaging account of a harmless obsession. For thirty years he has been ferreting out every copy of Nicholas Copernicus’s De revolutionibus orbium coelestium to which library catalogues, booksellers’ lists, auction records, informed tips and plain luck led him. The exceptional importance of Copernicus’s work in the history of science was only indirectly the cause of this monomania ...

The Strangest Piece of News

Nick Wilding: Galileo, 2 June 2011

Galileo: Watcher of the Skies 
by David Wootton.
Yale, 328 pp., £25, October 2010, 978 0 300 12536 8
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Galileo 
by J.L. Heilbron.
Oxford, 508 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 19 958352 2
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... ability to produce high-class wonders looked like it would never run dry. Both Wootton and John Heilbron bring fresh insights even to the invention of astronomical telescopy, overworked though the field is. The different points from which they start out are revealing: Heilbron imaginatively grounds ...

German Scientist

M.F. Perutz, 8 January 1987

The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck as Spokesman for German Science 
by J.L. Heilbron.
California, 250 pp., £14.50, July 1986, 0 520 05710 4
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... of anti-semitism started only after Hitler’s accession to power in 1933, but I learnt from Heilbron’s book that attacks on Einstein began in 1919, the very year that Sir Arthur Eddington’s confirmation of the Theory of Relativity brought him world fame. They came from anti-semitic physicists who rejected his theories, from anti-semitic newspapers ...

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