William Crookes (1832–1919) and the Commercialization of Science  book cover
1st Edition

William Crookes (1832–1919) and the Commercialization of Science

ISBN 9781138259881
Published November 9, 2016 by Routledge
586 Pages

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Book Description

William Crookes' long life was one of unbroken scientific and business activity, culminating in his appointment as President of the Royal Society in 1913. Throughout his career he was an important science journalist, the discoverer of thallium, the inventor of the radiometer, investigator of cathode rays and the vacuum, a spectroscopist of significance in rare earth chemistry, and a spokesman for a chemical solution to the problems with the world's food supplies. He was also, and perhaps most controversially, an occultist who played a significant role in spiritualism in the 1870s, and was involved with D.D. Home (Browning's Mr Sludge) and other notable mediums of the day. Previous literature on Crookes has tended to focus on his involvement with the spiritualists, sometimes to the detriment of his many scientific achievements. This, the first biography of William Crookes, gives us the whole man: one of the most complex, public, and interesting figures in the history of science. Professor Brock guides us through the abundant catalogue of Crookes' accomplishments, placing his scientific activities in the context of the business of making a living from science - something that Crookes did principally as a science journalist and editor with his Chemical News (the model for today's Nature), and by business enterprises ranging from water analysis, sewerage schemes, and goldmining to the design of electric light bulbs. We also see Crookes in the lab, as an independent researcher, and learn the processes behind his discovery of thallium, his investigations into matter and energy, and his crucial work on cathode rays. We see the public man, the celebrity who was much sought after for his opinions on the latest discovery, and who was widely regarded as Britain's leading scientist at the beginning of the twentieth century. Scientist, spiritualist, entrepreneur: Sir William Crookes' extraordinary life and many endeavours provide a unique window into Victorian and Edwardian science and industry.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Preliminary: a chemist at work; A tailor's son; Photographic chemist. The making of an editor; Earning a living; Thallium; Carbolic and cattle plague; Selling science, 1865-75; Spiritualism; Mysterious forces: investigating Mr Home; Chemistry is strictly a science of precision; The investigation of Florence Cook, 1872-74; Scandal: the investigations of Annie Eva Fay and Rosina Showers; The radiometer and its lessons: William Carpenter versus William Crookes; Dark spaces and the 4th state of matter; Ubi crux ibi lux. The business of electricity; The commercialization of public health: water; The commercialization of public health: adulteration, sewage and hygiene; Radiant spectroscopy. The rare earths crusade; Esoteric chemistry in the nineties; Inert gases and transmutations; The wheat problem; Radioactivity; Welsh gold and African diamonds; The grand old man of chemical physics, 1907-1913; The final years, 1913-1919; The afterlife; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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William H. Brock, Emeritus Professor of History of Science, University of Leicester, UK


PRIZE: Winner of the 2009 Roy G. Neville Prize in Bibliography or Biography presented by the Chemical Heritage Foundation ’...Brock brings Crookes alive in masterful detail and with literary style in this novel-like yet definitive history...Highly recommended. All libraries.’ Choice ’Brock, using more than 800 published articles by Crookes, as well as his journalism and surviving manuscripts, most important his laboratory notebooks, has written a convincing (I would almost be tempted to say definitive) account of Crookes’s varied life. ... Like all good biographers Brock has cast light onto far more than the subject. ... Crookes emerges as a major figure in 19th- and 20th-century science, and historians will long be grateful to Brock for tracking Crookes’s role in the development of science in virtually all its aspects.’ Chemical Heritage ’To write the biography of such a varied man is a challenge, but Brock has met that challenge in superb fashion... The last biography of Crookes was written by Fournier d'Albe in 1923. Brock's achievement is such that there should be no need to write another for at least 86 more years.’ Bulletin for the History of Chemistry ’Brock's is a readable, well researched, doorstop biography - an exhaustive account of an exhausting life.’ Medical History ’This is a highly-informed and exhaustive work on a scientist across the vast range of Victorian and Edwardian England opportunity who, ultimately, in his long life, garnered many accolades from the most prominent of scientific societies.’ EH.NET ’Si le terme définitif peut être employé en histoire, nul doute que ce livre constitue la biographie définitive de Sir William Crookes. Historiens des sciences, physiciens et chimistes curieux de leur histoire, et historiens intéressés par le rôle de la science et des scientifiques dans la société tireront grand profit de la lecture de cet ouvrage, écrit dans un bel anglais, accessible et clair, vif et a