Wherever there is science, there are scientists; and wherever there are scientists, there is rivalry. Ever since ancient times, rivalry has been a key feature of scientific endeavour and a powerful impetus for the greatest advancements in Western science.
In this erudite, accessible and dynamic book, bestselling author Michael White examines eight instances in the history of science and technology that changed the world, in all of which the stress of rivalry played a pivotal role. Whether between individual scientists, groups of scientists, institutions or even among the international scientific community, the driving force of rivalry may have many sources and take on may guises, but it is always present.
This, then, is a book rooted in the human aspect of science. Rather than the placid, sterile and dull world in which it is popularly imagined the scientist lives, the protagonists in this book find themselves caught in very human battles for supremacy, battles which can be born of jealousy, pettiness and simple personality clashes - as well as more noble instincts.
The stories of 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 the feuds between Bill Gates and Larry Ellison illustrate the varying forms rivalry can take, and the eternal impulse for scientists not only to be right, but also to be first.