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Scientists and Swindlers

Consulting on Coal and Oil in America, 1820–1890

Paul Lucier

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In this impressively researched and highly original work, Paul Lucier explains how science became an integral part of American technology and industry in the nineteenth century. Scientists and Swindlers introduces us to a new service of professionals: the consulting scientists. Lucier follows these entrepreneurial men of science on their wide-ranging commercial engagements from the shores of Nova Scotia to the coast of California and shows how their innovative work fueled the rapid growth of the American coal and oil industries and the rise of American geology and chemistry. Along the way, he...

In this impressively researched and highly original work, Paul Lucier explains how science became an integral part of American technology and industry in the nineteenth century. Scientists and Swindlers introduces us to a new service of professionals: the consulting scientists. Lucier follows these entrepreneurial men of science on their wide-ranging commercial engagements from the shores of Nova Scotia to the coast of California and shows how their innovative work fueled the rapid growth of the American coal and oil industries and the rise of American geology and chemistry. Along the way, he explores the decisive battles over expertise and authority, the high-stakes court cases over patenting research, the intriguing and often humorous exploits of swindlers, and the profound ethical challenges of doing science for money.

Starting with the small surveying businesses of the 1830s and reaching to the origins of applied science in the 1880s, Lucier recounts the complex and curious relations that evolved as geologists, chemists, capitalists, and politicians worked to establish scientific research as a legitimate, regularly compensated, and respected enterprise. This sweeping narrative enriches our understanding of how the rocks beneath our feet became invaluable resources for science, technology, and industry.

Reviews

Reviews

Extensively researched and replete with bibliographical citations, Scientists and Swindlers is a significant reference work for historians and will also be of interest to geologists, chemists, and other scientists interested in the history of their professions.

Gracefully written and well-researched study.

This will be an especially appropriate library resource for history of science and technology and history of geology collections. Highly recommended.

An insightful study of scientific consulting practices that integrates business, geology, and environmental issues with the larger context of the early history of the American 'fossil fuel' industry.

Scientists and Swindlers is a valuable addition to our understanding of the evolution of scientific practice in America. Lucier's work answers much and raises interesting questions. That makes it a worthy read.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
7
x
10
Pages
448
ISBN
9781421402857
Illustration Description
40 halftones, 6 line drawings
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Money for Science
Part I: Coal
1. Geological Enterprise
2. The Strange Case of the Albert Mineral
3. The American Sciences of Coal
4. Mining Science
Part II

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Money for Science
Part I: Coal
1. Geological Enterprise
2. The Strange Case of the Albert Mineral
3. The American Sciences of Coal
4. Mining Science
Part II: Kerosene
5. The Technological Science of Kerosene
6. The Kerosene Cases
Part III: Petroleum
7. The Rock Oil Report
8. The Elusive Nature of Oil and Its Markets
9. The Search for Oil and Oil-Finding Experts
10. California Crude
Epilogue: Americanization of Science
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Paul Lucier, Ph.D.

Trained as a geophysicist, Paul Lucier holds a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. His work as a historian of science and technology specializing in the earth and environmental sciences and the mining industries has received numerous prizes and has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation.