Author: Michael White

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Rivals: Conflict As the Fuel of Science

Michael White

White’s thesis is that the greatest advances in science come about through the stress of rivalry, whether between individual scientists, groups of scientists, institutions or even international communities of scientists. Not in this book do we have the thunderbolt of divine inspiration, or the placid, sterile and rather dull world in which it is popularly imagined the scientist lives: for White, great scientific advancements often find their origin and progression into the wider world through the very human battles for supremacy among the experts in any particular field, battles which can be born of jealousy, pettiness and simple personality clashes, as well as more noble instincts. The book deals with eight instances in the history of science and technology which changed the world, all of which have acute rivalry at their heart: Newton and Leibniz, Lavoisier and Priestley, Darwin and Wallace, Edison and Tesla, the race for the Atom Bomb, Crick and Watson, the Space Race and Gates and Ellison.

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