Cover image for Good seeing : a century of science at the Carnegie Institution of Washington 1902-2002
Good seeing : a century of science at the Carnegie Institution of Washington 1902-2002
Trefil, James, 1938-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Joseph Henry Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 244 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 30 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Q179.9 .T74 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Good Seeing presents a readable, inspiring history of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, from its founding in 1902, through the emergence of "big science" after World War II, to the institution's role in addressing the major science questions of the 21st century.

Authors James Refil and Margaret Hindle Hazen open their narrative with the story of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish bobbin boy who used his ingenuity to build a fortune in industrial America "and then turned his energy to giving that fortune away.

The book then goes on to chronicle the groundbreaking work accomplished by the various Carnegie departments, tracing their growth and change as the frontiers of science expanded through the decades. And it looks at Carnegie's influence on the mechanisms of science funding, the institution's early support of ecology, and the building of the world's leading astronomical observatories.

The authors offer fascinating glimpses into the lives of science giants Barbara McClintock, George Ellery Hale, Edwin Hubble, Vera Rubin, Alfred Kidder "and the legendary Vannevar Bush, Institution President from 1939-1955.

Lavishly illustrated with historical photos and drawings, this celebration of the Carnegie Institution's century of discovery will be a delightful read for scientists, science advocates, and students of American science leadership.

Author Notes

James Trefil was born in Chicago and educated at the University of Illinois, Oxford University, and Stanford University, where he earned a Ph.D. in physics. Currently Clarence H. Robinson Professor of physics at George Mason University, he is among the well-respected scientists who have the skill to translate physics for the general reader into prose worthy of an English major. For example, his "meditation trilogy," described below, recounts interesting examples, clear explanations, and the wonder of science in Trefil's beautiful and lively language. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Although this is not a scholarly work, it can be enjoyed very much for what it is--a richly illustrated, commemorative, coffee-table tome. To capture the feel of this work, one may think of this as the experience of leafing through a rather distinguished family photo album. Naturally, there is an introduction, followed by a brief biography of the family patriarch--in this case Andrew Carnegie. Next is a short history of the Carnegie Institution, followed by four chapters that chronicle the achievements of the Institute and the scientific work it has supported in broad subject areas. These areas are astronomy, earth science, the life sciences, and interdisciplinary works (ecology, archaeology, biophysics). The final chapter ("The Endless Frontier") narrates current and future research projects. This book also serves to remind readers of how far we have come in the last 100 years. Whether one considers Carnegie a robber baron or a philanthropist, it is certain that readers will agree that the Carnegie Institute of Washington and the eminent scientists who have worked there have greatly contributed to the betterment of the world. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. J. Olson Northeastern Illinois University