THROUGH RUGGED WAYS TO THE STARS by Harlow Shapley

THROUGH RUGGED WAYS TO THE STARS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Harlow Shapley's informal memoirs, the third in Scribners' series of autobiographical works by world-famous scientists (the others, Max Born and Otto Hahn), are lively reading in a simple terse style. Almost accidentally, through a series of odd deflections, encouraging teachers, and innate talents he ended up as an astronomer producing world-shaking results even before World War I. The memoirs dwell less on these contributions and more on the people, the marriage, and the extracurricular activities that have marked his active career. Sometimes these were informal sessions at Harvard Observatory like the Hollow Square or Full Moonatics meetings. Sometimes they were excursions into biology or botany: Shapley the ant-watcher formulated the fundamental rule that the hotter the sun the faster do ants move. In mid- and later life he seems to have been present at the founding or enlivening of a dozen major scientific organizations. He helped found Science Service, dedicated to communicating science, and Daedalus, the scholarly quarterly. He rescued refugee scientists, helped establish UNESCO, and was an excellent fund-raiser for causes both scientific and liberal. It is a very strong personality telling these tales, justifiably pleased with many of the things he's done, but still a little diffident about society types and Great Men who are ""big shots"" in his lexicon--even though it's very clear that Shapley, a fighter from Missouri, is one of the biggest shots of all.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Scribners