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By Charles Tanford

Benjamin Franklin used to be the 1st to file the phenomenon of oil's energy to nonetheless stricken waters and to take a position on why it occurred. A century later Lord Rayleigh played an analogous test. Irving Langmuir did it with minor adaptations in 1917, and received a Nobel Prize for it. Then Langmuir's paintings was once by means of a Dutch pediatrician's in 1925. p each one experimenter observed a bit extra within the outcome than his predecessor had obvious, and the sciences of physics, chemistry and biology have all been illuminated via the paintings. p Charles Tanford displays at the evolving nature of technology and of person scientists. Recounting ideas in every one trial, he follows the vintage scan from Franklin's drawing room to our present-day institutionalized medical institutions and speculates at the resulting adjustments in our method of clinical inquiry.

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Extra info for Ben Franklin Stilled the Waves: An Informal History of Pouring Oil on Water with Reflections on the Ups and Downs of Scientific Life in General

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William Watson (1715–1787). William Watson was another selfmade man, but more motivated by personal ambition than  F  I Collinson. He was a charter member of the Royal Society Club and also active in the Club of Honest Whigs. It was Watson, not Peter Collinson, who read Ben Franklin’s first electrical letter to the Royal Society in 1748 and who sponsored its publication in the Philosophical Transactions. Since Collinson was not himself an electrician, it was the logical thing for him to do, to have it reviewed by the Royal Society member with greatest expertise in the field, which Watson in that particular year could claim to be, though his ultimate eminence came as a physician and not as a scientist.

Johann Carl Wilcke (1732– 1796), for example, was required to make a formal choice between following his father into the ministry or embarking on a scientific career–– he could not, as he would have done in England, do both. He chose science, which required an arduous course of study at the University of Rostock and a proper doctoral dissertation, which had to be defended before a committee, much as we do nowadays. Wilcke passed the requirements with honor and some fame in 1757 and subsequently became a professor in Sweden.

The Club of Honest Whigs The Royal Society Club (founded in 1743) was the largest and most prestigious of the eighteenth-century discussion and dining clubs that met in taverns or coffee houses, and it was also the most formal. It met at the famous Mitre Tavern on Fleet Street, where Samuel Johnson regularly held court. Only Fellows of the Royal Society were admitted to membership in the club, and politics and religion were strictly forbidden subjects for discussion. Careful records of attendance were kept and are preserved, and from them we learn that Franklin was frequently invited–– as well as the revealing fact that his invitations became more numerous after the Cockpit hearing, where official England had declared him unfit for association with decent men.

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