A Professor A President and A Meteor

Author: Cathryn J. Prince
Publisher: Prometheus Books
ISBN: 1616142723
Format: PDF, Mobi
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When a fiery meteor crash in 1807 lit up the dark early-morning sky in Weston, Connecticut, it did more than startle the few farmers in the sleepy village. More importantly, it sparked the curiosity of Benjamin Silliman, a young chemistry professor at nearby Yale College. His rigorous investigation of the incident started a chain of events that eventually brought the once-low standing of American science to sudden international prominence. And, by coincidence, the event also embroiled Silliman in politics, pitting him against no less an adversary than President Thomas Jefferson. Based on a wealth of original source documents and interiews with current experts in history, astronomy, and geology, this journalist tells the remarkable story of Benjamin Silliman, arguably America’s first bonafide scientist. In a lively narrative rich with fascinating historical detail, the author documents the primitive state of American science at the time; Silliman’s careful analysis of the meteor samples; and the publication of his conclusions, which contradicted both popular superstitions regarding meteors as ominous portents and a common belief that meteors come from volcanic eruptions on the moon. She also describes Silliman’s struggles to build a chemistry department at Yale with rudimentary material; new insights into geology that resulted from his analysis of the meteor; and his report to the prestigious French Academy, which raised the prestige of American science. Finally, she discusses the political turbulence of the time, which Silliman could not escape, and how the meteor event was used to drive a wedge between New England and Jefferson. This is a fascinating vignette of Federal Period America when science on this continent was still in its infancy, but was just beginning to make its mark. From the Hardcover edition.

Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries

Author: Tom Shachtman
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 1137278250
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Explores the scientific pursuits and discoveries of the Founding Fathers, from George Washington's embrace of a smallpox vaccination that saved the American army to Thomas Paine's many inventions, including the first-ever iron span bridge.

Shot from the Sky

Author: Cathryn Prince
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
ISBN: 1612513476
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Shot from the Sky is about one of the great, dark secrets of World War II: Neutral Switzerland shot down U.S. aircraft entering Swiss airspace and imprisoned the survivors in internment camps, detaining more than a thousand American flyers between 1943 and the war’s end. While conditions at the camps were adequate and humane for internees who obeyed their captors’ orders, the experience was very different for those who attempted to escape. They were held in special penitentiary camps in conditions as bad as those in some prisoner-of-war camps in Nazi Germany. Ironically, the Geneva Accords at the time did not apply to prisoners held in neutral countries, so better treatment could not be demanded. When the war ended in Europe, sixty-one Americans lay buried in a small village cemetery near Bern. Details of this little-known episode are brought to light by Cathryn Prince, who tells what happened and examines the argument the Swiss used to justify their policy. She shows that while the Swiss claimed they satisfied international law, they applied the law in a grossly unfair manner. No German airmen were interned, and the Nazi aircraft were allowed to refuel at Swiss airfields. The author draws on first-person accounts and unpublished sources, including interviews with eyewitnesses and surviving American prisoners, and documents held by the Swiss government and the U.S. Air Force. Although these events have been briefly alluded to in other books, this is the first time that the complete story has been presented.

Death in the Baltic

Author: Cathryn J. Prince
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 023034156X
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Draws on survivor interviews and newly declassified records to offer insight into the sinking of the World War II refugee ship that killed over nine thousand people, an incident that was covered up by both Eastern and Western officials.

Charles Olivier and the Rise of Meteor Science

Author: Richard Taibi
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319445189
Format: PDF, ePub
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This fascinating portrait of an amateur astronomy movement tells the story of how Charles Olivier recruited a hard-working cadre of citizen scientists to rehabilitate the study of meteors. By 1936, Olivier and members of his American Meteor Society had succeeded in disproving an erroneous idea about meteor showers. Using careful observations, they restored the public’s trust in predictions about periodic showers and renewed respect for meteor astronomy among professional astronomers in the United States. Charles Olivier and his society of observers who were passionate about watching for meteors in the night sky left a major impact on the field. In addition to describing Olivier’s career and describing his struggles with competitive colleagues in a hostile scientific climate, the author provides biographies of some of the scores of women and men of all ages who aided Olivier in making shower observations, from the Leonids and Perseids and others. Half of these amateur volunteers were from 13 to 25 years of age. Their work allowed Olivier and the AMS to contradict the fallacious belief in stationary and long-enduring meteor showers, bringing the theory of their origin into alignment with celestial mechanics. Thanks to Olivier and his collaborators, the study of meteors took a great leap forward in the twentieth century to earn a place as a worthy topic of study among professional astronomers.

American Daredevil

Author: Cathryn Prince
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
ISBN: 1613731620
Format: PDF, Mobi
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With a polished walking stick and neatly pressed trousers, Richard Halliburton served as an intrepid globetrotting guide for millions of Americans in the 1920s and '30s. Readers waited with bated breath for each new article and book he wrote. During his career, Halliburton climbed the Matterhorn, nearly fell out of his plane while shooting the first aerial photographs of Mt. Everest, and became the first person to swim the Panama Canal. With his matinee idol looks, the Tennessee native was a media darling in an era of optimism and increased social openness. But as the Great Depression and looming war pushed America toward social conservatism, Halliburton more actively worked to hide his homosexuality, burnishing his image as a masculine trailblazer. As chronicled in American Daredevil, Halliburton harnessed the media of his day to gain and maintain a widespread following long before our age of the 24-hour news cycle, and thus became the first celebrity adventure journalist. And during the darkest hours of the Great Depression, Halliburton did something remarkable: he inspired generations of authors, journalists, and everyday people who dreamt of fame and glory to explore the world.