Peter J. Bowler surveys the books, serial works, magazines, and newspapers published between 1900 and the outbreak of World War II to show that practicing scientists were very active in writing about their work for a general readership. Science for All argues that the social environment of early twentieth-century Britain created a substantial market for science books and magazines aimed at those who had benefited from better secondary education but could not access higher learning. Scientists found it easy and profitable to write for this audience, Bowler reveals, and because their work was seen as educational, they faced no hostility from their peers. But when admission to colleges and universities became more accessible in the 1960s, this market diminished and professional scientists began to lose interest in writing at the nonspecialist level.
Eagerly anticipated by scholars of scientific engagement throughout the ages, Science for All sheds light on our own era and the continuing tension between science and public understanding.
Frankenstein's Children explains that Faraday, with his colleagues at the Royal Society and the Royal Institution, looked at science as the province of a highly trained elite, who presented their abstract picture of nature only to select groups. The book contrasts Faraday's views with those of other practitioners, to whom science was a practical, skill-based activity open to all. In venues such as the Galleries of Practical Science, electrical phenomena were presented to a public less distinguished but no less enthusiastic and curious than Faraday's audiences. William Sturgeon, for instance, emphasized building apparatus and exhibiting electrical phenomena, while chemists, instrument-makers, and popular lecturers supported the London Electrical Society. These previously little studied "electricians" contributed much to the birth of "Frankenstein's children"--the not completely benign effects of electricity on a new consumer world.
Originally published in 1998.
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