PD Smith

Suffer and survive

03 August 2007 | JS Haldane, pop science, Reviewing | 4 comments

I've just reviewed Martin Goodman's wonderful biography of J.S. Haldane for the Times. Here's the first paragraph of the review:

'Early one freezing January morning in 1896, a massive explosion ripped through the Tylorstown Colliery in the Rhondda Valley. The force of the explosion blew the roof off pitshaft number 7 and sent a “black tornado of dust up through the shafts”. A quick count of the missing miners’ lamps suggested that more than 100 men were below. In addition, there were the boys, known as “the trappers”, employed to open and close the thick wooden doors in the pitch-black tunnels.'

Read the rest here.

4 comments so far:

  1. Angela Meyer | 03 August 2007

    Thank you for sharing this review. His methods seem curious and unorthodox to us now but without scientists doing it 'dirty' like him, we wouldn't know half what we know today.


  2. PD Smith | 04 August 2007

    "doing it dirty"...I like that phrase & I think Haldane would have liked it too! Cheers Angela

  3. Dr PR Lewis | 08 August 2007

    Haldane has always been a great hero to me, and inspired my own investigations in collieries. Someone said of him that he had saved more lives than the whole of the medical profession put together, and the bio is a super tribute to his life and work.

  4. PD Smith | 09 August 2007

    Good to hear from you Dr Lewis. Yes, Haldane certainly richly deserves a biography and I think Goodman has done a very good job - despite what Lynne Truss said in the Sunday Times.

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