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Fatal Attraction

liked it 3.0  ·  Rating Details ·  9 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
Edmond Halley, Franz Mesmer ^ Gowin Knight, three of the most brilliant men in Enlightenment Europe, were each drawn to investigate the force of magnetism. In Fatal Attraction, popular science writer Patricia Fara tells their astonishing stories, revealing how magnetism went from a poorly understood phonomenon to the very center of a scientif study--only to be eclipsed by ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published April 7th 2005 by MJF Books/Fine Communications (NYC)
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Nicholas Whyte[return][return]I got my historical training in the same place that Fara teaches (she is now the senior tutor of the Cambridge college I attended, and lectures in the department where I got my M Phil). Fara explores the eighteenth century not as a time like ours but as an alien culture which needs to be explained and unpacked, and does this through three key characters in the history of the understanding of magnetism: Edmund Halley (who also plays an import ...more
Mike Prochot
Jun 09, 2011 Mike Prochot rated it liked it
Shelves: oddities
Mesmerizing (sorry) historic tale of man's fascination with magnetism - focusing on three individuals who led the field in bringing the facts to life.

While taken for granted today, as early as the 17th century, magnetism was "still considered nature's most mysterious force".

This is a relatively short read which does a wonderful job of illustrating our fascination with magnetism early on and the odd theories sent afloat by those who tried to explain it as well as those who profited by it's myst
Erik Graff
Feb 28, 2015 Erik Graff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Enlightenment science fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
My master's thesis dealt in part with depth psychological models of the psyche and ended with some discussion of field theory as in electro-magnetism. Consequently, this book, with its topic of seventeenth and eighteen century theories of magnetism, caught my eye.

What I was looking for was a history of the development of our understanding of magnetism. What I got were a some biographies of early theorists interspersed with amusing anecdotes.
Dec 17, 2011 Jen rated it it was ok
Meh, it was ok. I'm not overly into this type of topic, but it was interesting. The writing style was a bit off, in one section, the author completely breaks the 4th wall and admits to speculation on something that follows, which was written as if it was fact. Not bad, but that kind of irked me.
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Patricia Fara is a historian of science at the University of Cambridge. She is a graduate of the University of Oxford and did her PhD at the University of London. She is a former Fellow of Darwin College and is currently a Fellow of Clare College where she is Senior Tutor and Tutor for graduate students. Fara is also a research associate and lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy of ...more
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