As biographies, the chapters in this book are necessarily brief. The suggestions that follow are intended to afford the reader an opportunity to become better acquainted with the main characters in this story. Full-length biographies and related material are given for the subject of each chapter. The list is far from comprehensive; the books selected are those that were preferred as sources in the writing of the book. The abbreviation DSB stands for Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York: Scribner, 1971–90), an invaluable source of short but authoritative biographies of most of the subjects herein.
The Galileo literature is enormous. A few selections are: Stillman Drake, Galileo at Work: His Scientific Biography (New York: Dover, 1995), Galileo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), and Galileo: Pioneer Scientist (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990); James Reston, Jr., Galileo (New York: HarperCollins, 1994); and Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter (New York: Walker, 1999).
Like Galileo, Newton has been popular with scholars. A recent biography is Richard Westfall, The Life of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), which is a shortened version of Westfall's earlier Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980). To get a taste of Newton's Principia, see Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Newton's Principia for the Common Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). Francois De Gandt also analyzes the Principia in Force and Geometry in Newton's Principia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).
Little is known about Sadi Carnot's personal life. Biographical commentary mainly concerns his scientific work. See J. F. Challey's article on Carnot in DSB, and D. S. L. Cardwell, From Watt to Clausius (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1971). Carnot's Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire has been translated several times, most recently by R. Fox (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986). R. H. Thurston's translation (London: Macmillan, 1890) includes portions of Hippolyte Carnot's biography of his brother. Clifford Truesdell gives a critical account of the history of thermodynamics (including the work of Carnot and his successors) in The Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1980).