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Cover

The Spirit of Inquiry

How one extraordinary society shaped modern science

Susannah Gibson

February 2019

ISBN: 9780198833376

400 pages
Hardback
234x153mm

In Stock

Price: £25.00

Despite its modest size the Cambridge Philosophical Society has played a monumental role in the history of science. To mark the bicentenary of its founding in 1819, Susannah Gibson gives a vivid account of the illustrious (and sometimes eccentric) members of the society, their breakthrough discoveries, and the forging of modern science.

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Description

Despite its modest size the Cambridge Philosophical Society has played a monumental role in the history of science. To mark the bicentenary of its founding in 1819, Susannah Gibson gives a vivid account of the illustrious (and sometimes eccentric) members of the society, their breakthrough discoveries, and the forging of modern science.

  • Celebrates the 200th anniversary of the remarkable Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • Brings to life the many remarkable episodes and illustrious figures associated with the Society, including Adam Sedgwick, Mary Somerville, Charles Darwin, and Lawrence Bragg
  • Reflects the shaping of modern science, as well as a changing Cambridge University, against the backdrop of profound social and intellectual transformation, from early Victorian times, through the world wars, to the present
  • Offers background to current debates about the role of science in society

About the Author(s)

Susannah Gibson, Affiliated scholar, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge

Dr Susannah Gibson is an Affiliated Scholar of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD from Cambridge on the history of the life sciences of the eighteenth century, a master's degree in the history of nineteenth-century science, and a bachelor's degree in experimental physics. She is the author of Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? How eighteenth-century science disrupted the natural order (OUP, 2015), which was well reviewed in The Telegraph, The TLS, and The Independent, amongst other publications. She was formerly Manager of the Cambridge Literary Festival, and remains interested in both introducing new audiences to the history of science, and in bridging the gap between academic and popular writing.

Table of Contents

    1: The fenland philosophers
    2: The house on All Saints' Passage
    3: Letters from the south
    4: "The hidden worlds"
    5: The misdeeds of Mr Crouch
    6: A workbench of one's own
    7: The laboratory in the library
    8: "May it never be of any use to anybody"
    9: Following the footsteps
    Further reading
    Index

Reviews

"Gibson has thoroughly filleted the archives and she tells a richly fascinating history. Her book is an excellent example of everything that public outreach should be: accessibly priced, informative, and entertaining." - Ann Kennedy Smith, Times Literary Supplement

"Reviewing a great book is much like witnessing a blue moon, infrequent but captivating. For me, The Spirit of Inquiry was one such event... This book deserves your time." - Dr Stephen Hoskins, The Biologist

"A vivid, deeply researched intellectual history." - Kirkus

"As part of its bicentenary celebration, the Cambridge Philosophical Society commissioned historian of science Susannah Gibson to tell the story of the Societys foundation, its rise, decline and resurrection. She has managed the difficult task of bringing together the many different strands, which were part of the wider story of the development of science, and made it very readable." - Douglas Palmer, Geoscientist

"I loved this book. And if you, too, are fascinated by the history of British science and are interested in Cambridge University, you will too ... Gibson has produced an impressive addition to the history of the development of the science..." - Brian Clegg, Popular Science

"How then did Cambridge transform into the world-beater in science of today? That is the subject matter of The Spirit of Inquiry by Susannah Gibson. She weaves a delightful tale about the institution that made it happen..." - Rajat Ghai, Down to Earth