Cover image for A dictionary of the history of science
A dictionary of the history of science
Sebastian, Anton.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Parthenon Pub. Group, [2001]

Physical Description:
vi, 373 pages : illustrations ; 31 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Q124.8 .S43 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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The only work of its kind, this dictionary is uniquely focused on the history of applied science, including medical and biomedical applications. It contains approximately 3000 detailed and extensively researched entries painstakingly compiled by Dr. Anton Sebastian, respected author of A Dictionary of the History of Medicine. A work of exceptional scholarship totaling some 400 double-column pages it contains many rarely seen illustrations from original sources involving hundreds of books and journals. This dictionary offers special value to scientists, doctors, and students as a marvelous source of hard-to-find, authoritative information about notable scientific figures, inventions, terms and dates, captivating anecdotes, and background material. The entries includes each term's Greek and Latin origins and concise biographies.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Sebastian (general practice physician; author of Dictionary of the History of Medicine, CH, Feb'00) broadens his scientific perspective in this new dictionary. He relies heavily on an extensive bibliography of earlier histories of science, distilling their information into 700 dictionary entries that range in length from 25 to 353 words. Although he attempts to cover all scientific disciplines, the rationale for uneven article lengths is not clear. Moreover, humanistic aspects of scientific topics and ideas, which Sebastian professes to emphasize, are dismissed by the separation of conceptual and biographical entries. These and other idiosyncrasies of the dictionary (e.g., its gender-biased language and occasionally muddled see references) give evidence that this is a one-person effort. Beside Dictionary of the History of Science, ed. by W.F. Bynum et al. (CH, May'82), whose entries were written by a board of subject specialists and include helpful entry-specific bibliographies, Sebastian's work appears threadbare and unscholarly. Recommended only as a supplementary source for libraries supporting basic science history. J. Duffy Ohio State University

Table of Contents

An American physicist from Wilton, New Hampshire, who lived for 100 years
He served as Director of the Astrophysical Observatory at the Smithsonian Institution from 1907 to 1944 and invented a device for converting solar energy to power
He published The Sun (1907) and The Earth and the Stars (1925)
Abel-Ruffini Theorem Useful in evaluating the sum of a number of integrals which have the same integrand but different limits
Proposed by a Norwegian mathematician
Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) in 1826
It had been stated earlier by an Italian mathematician, Paolo Ruffini (1765-1822) in Modena in 1798
ACIDS [Latin: acidus, sour] The acidic properties of substances were attributed to various phenomena in the past
A Swiss alchemist and physician, Paracelsus (1493-1541), described a hypothetical substance, acidum primogenium, as a cause of acidity
Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) thought that oxygen in various substances was responsible f or their acidic properties
Nitric acid, known to the Arabs since AD 900, was prepared under the name aqua fortis by an alchemist, Raymond Lully, in 1287
The acids were first recognized as a group of compounds on a chemical basis in the 16th century
John Rudolph Glauber (1604-1668), the last of the German alchemists, obtained pure forms of sulphuric acid and nitric acid around 1640
The acids were first arranged in order of their affinity for certain bases in 1718 by a French physician, Etienne Francois Geoffroy (1672-1731)
A Swedish apothecary and chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) discovered nitrous acid in 1774
Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) demonstrated its chemical nature in 1785
The modern theory of proton acceptors for acids was proposed by Johannes Nicolaus Bronsted (1879-1947), a Danish professor of chemistry at Copenhagen, in 1928
See acid base theory, acidity, acidosis, Bronsted's theory