Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming

By Gale E. Christianson | Go to book overview

9

NATIVE SON

But in science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.

-- Sir Francis Darwin, "First Galton Lecture"

On December 10, 1903, with King Oscar II and other members of the royal family looking on, four Nobel prize winners took center stage at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. Conspicuous by their absence were the physicists Pierre and Marie Curie, who were represented by the French Ministry. The recipients stepped forward in turn to be addressed by Dr. H. R. Törnebladh, president of the academy, after which the king presented each with a diploma, a gold medal, and 141,000 kroner (about 40,000 U.S. dollars), from interest on the bequest of Alfred Bernhard Nobel, the Swedish chemist and inventor of dynamite.

The audience stirred when the name of Svante August Arrhenius was called, and for good reason. The forty-four-yearold professor of chemistry was the first native son to be so honored. Short, thickset, with a neatly trimmed blond beard and the fierce blue eyes of his Viking forebears, the laureate faced Dr. Törnebladh.

"Around 1880," the president intoned, when Arrhenius was in his early twenties and studying for his doctorate, he had traced the movement of electric current through various solvents, arriving at "a new explanation of the causes of chemical

-105-

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Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part One - The Time Travelers 1
  • 1 - The Guillotine and the Bell Jar 3
  • 2 - The Cryptic Moth 13
  • 3 - Endless and as Nothing 24
  • Part Two - The World Eaters 37
  • 4 - Quest for the Black Diamond 39
  • 5 - Cleopatra's Needles 54
  • 6 - Vulcan's Anvil 66
  • 7 - The Phantom of the Open Hearth 75
  • 8 - The Dynamo and the Virgin 92
  • Part Three - The Dwellers in the Crystal Palace 103
  • 9 - Native Son 105
  • 10 - Never a Man 116
  • 11 - Threshold 135
  • 12 - A Tap on the Shoulder 145
  • 13 - Pendulum 158
  • 14 - A Death in the Amazon 172
  • 15 - The Climatic Flywheel 192
  • 16 - Cassandra's Listeners 210
  • 17 - Signs and Portents 222
  • 18 - Scenarios 235
  • 19 - Kyoto 254
  • Coda 269
  • Bibliography 279
  • Acknowledgments 293
  • Index 295
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