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By Bill Green

“This magnificent clinical memoir captures the romance and wonder of study in certain poetic prose that's as stunning and evocative as something written by means of Rilke, painted by way of Seurat, or performed through Casals." —Mary Doria Russell, writer of document and The Sparrow

“A radiant love letter to technological know-how from a scientist with a poet's soul . . . eco-friendly is a wonderful author, and his fierce concentration and mastery of fashion are comparable to the biologist and essayist Lewis Thomas." —Kirkus Reviews

In Boltzmann's Tomb, invoice eco-friendly interweaves the tale of his personal lifelong evolution as a scientist, and his paintings within the Antarctic, with a travelogue that could be a own and common heritage of technology. Like Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder—this publication serves as a fabulous creation to the good figures of technological know-how. in addition to lyrical meditations at the tragic lifetime of Galileo, the wildly eccentric Tycho Brahe, and the visionary Sir Isaac Newton, Green's ruminations go back all through to the lesser-known determine of Ludwig Boltzmann. utilizing Boltzmann's theories of randomness and entropy as a bigger metaphor for the unpredictable paths that our lives take, eco-friendly exhibits us that technological know-how, like paintings, is a lived adventure.

Bill eco-friendly is a geochemist and professor emeritus at Miami college in Oxford, Ohio. he's additionally the writer of Water, Ice & Stone: technology and reminiscence at the Antarctic Lakes which obtained the yank Museum of usual History's John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing, was once a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and was once excerpted within the Ends of the Earth: An Anthology of the best Writing at the Arctic and the Antarctic, edited through Elizabeth Kolbert.

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Extra info for Boltzmann's Tomb: Travels in Search of Science

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Randolph Hearst at her estate near Livermore, California. Later, reading sketches of his life, I came to see that he was capable of a great range of emotions, which can be both blessing and curse. Once, crossing the Atlantic from Bremen to New York, he wrote of “the wonderfully rolling seas, each day different and each day more amazing,” and at one point he wept at the color of the ocean. And standing on the deck at night he marveled at the phosphorescence and moonlight 35 Boltzmann's Tomb - 2nd pass:Layout 1 4/1/11 3:05 PM Page 36 BILL GREEN that played on the black surface of the sea.

Who in those centuries could even have imagined it—the vast ice fields and glaciers, the threatened ozone that lay high above, the molecules and ions that swam in the streams and in the lakes. And yet for me, so much of wonder started with them, with those figures, with the stars and planets that haunted their dreams. Without them, there could have been no Boltzmann or Bohr, no Meitner exploring the pierced shards of the nucleus; the modern world we call home would 59 Boltzmann's Tomb - 2nd pass:Layout 1 4/1/11 3:05 PM Page 60 BILL GREEN have been some shrouded land beyond ice and mist like a continent impossible to descry.

From them came the instruments and methods that extend our lives, that sire the rovers that inch across Mars in its russet dawn with signals of hope. They gave us Los Angeles, Singapore, and New York beaded in radiance across the midnight globe. And they gave us all of the smallest things that exist beneath our seeing: the jostling, wandering atoms that Boltzmann knew were there; the orbitals and the spun clouds of hydrogen and oxygen; the frames of carbon built on 61 Boltzmann's Tomb - 2nd pass:Layout 1 4/1/11 3:05 PM Page 62 BILL GREEN carbon that lay in pools in the darkness beneath Titusville, Pennsylvania, and beneath the sands of the Arabian Peninsula.

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