ISBN is

978-0-19-860429-7 / 0198604297

Homage to Gaia: The Life of an Independent Scientist

by Lovelock, James

Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

James Lovelock is the British scientist who gave birth to the concept of Gaia--the idea that "...the Earth regulates its climate and composition..." that neither "...we, or any living thing, [can] evolve without changing the state of the Earth". But as we find in Homage to Gaia: the Life of an Independent Scientist, there is much more to James Lovelock. His life has been more like that of the pioneer natural philosophers of the Renaissance who studied "science" before the word "scientist" was invented in the 19th century. As we discover in this fascinating autobiography, Lovelock learned the nuts and bolts of his science in a very old-fashioned way by what he calls "the long apprenticeship". On leaving school he had, like many bright but poor youths in Britain until the 1950s, to start work as an apprentice chemical analyst in London and study in the evenings at Birkbeck College. For any would-be scientist Lovelock's early career is an object lesson in application, persistence and inspiration. He managed to work his way into a remarkable variety of scientific research posts in chemistry, medicine and space science in both Britain and America. Along the way he invented the electron capture detector, which revolutionised the study of environmental chemistry and discovered that CFCs are accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere and damaging the ozone layer. And then there is Gaia, "...part of science...not an alternative to religion but a complement", according to Lovelock. Much of Lovelock's work has been carried out independently of universities, research institutes or business organisations, financed by the success of his inventions. His story of the struggle to make ends meet, to develop new ideas and to try to come to terms with what it means to be a responsible "child" of Earth, Gaia is essential if at times uncomfortable reading for anyone interested in the interaction between science and the environment. Be prepared to have your preconceptions of Lovelock shaken up. --Douglas Palmer

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