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Books to Note
Daniel Rothbart. Philosophical Instruments: Minds and Tools at Work. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2007. 160 pp. $32.00.
Philosophical Instruments investigates the importance of instruments in the field of science and offers a thought-provoking comparison of traditional instruments such as telescopes, microscopes, and other beautifully crafted brass and glass instruments with modern instruments such as scanning tunneling microscopes and diffraction devices. Scientists have been using instruments for centuries to advance their knowledge and understanding of the world, and with every new generation of instrument new understandings are reached and new information is gathered. An interesting facet of Rothbart's work is its attempt to persuade the reader to see the beauty and importance of instruments made of aluminum, nickel, and rubber rather than the more obviously visually appealing brass and iron. Rothbart reveals to the reader the interdependence between scientists and their tools; without tools, the scientist's job is exponentially more difficult, and without the scientist, the tool is useless. --Rosie Divernieri
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