Epilogue: Textbooks and the Emergence of a Conceptual Trajectory
Author(s)Kaiser, David I.
MetadataShow full item record
Of what use are scientific textbooks? To scientists and their students, textbooks can inspire admiration and nostalgia, but also a sense of limits, of being far from the intellectual frontier. After all, research in the physical sciences long ago ceased to be a bookish affair. For at least a century and a half, the most important developments have been communicated in journal articles and cognate forms such as conference talks and preprints (Frasca-Spada and Jardine 2000; Gross, Harmon, and Reidy 2002). The British scholar and statesman C. P. Snow--who spent much of his career trapped in a superposition, both physicist and novelist--observed in his famous lecture on The Two Cultures that "perhaps not many [scientists] would go as far as one hero who, when asked what books he read, replied firmly and confidently 'Books? I prefer to use my books as tools.'" Snow continued with a flourish: "It was very hard not to let the mind wander--what sort of tool would a book make? Perhaps a hammer? A primitive digging instrument?" (Snow 1959, 14)
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society
Research and Pedagogy: A History of Quantum Physics through Its Textbooks
Edition Open Access
Kaiser, David I. "Epilogue: Textbooks and the Emergence of a Conceptual Trajectory." Research and Pedagogy: A History of Quantum Physics through Its Textbooks. Eds. Badino, Massimiliano and Navarro, Jaume. Berlin: Edition Open Access, 2013. 285-289.
Final published version