Test Tubes And Tantrums

When great science minds collide, the insults traded and the bile spilt has been both personal and scandalous.

But all too often, the victors' reputation is scrubbed clean by the passage of history.

William Hartston rakes up some of the muck that has always been part and parcel of the nature of scientific practice, but that few of us know about.

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01Calculus2004070120060424

When great science minds collide, the insults traded and the bile spilt has been both personal and scandalous.

But all too often, the victors' reputation is scrubbed clean by the passage of history.

William Hartston rakes up some of the muck that has always been part and parcel of the nature of scientific practice, but that few of us know about.In the 17th Century Isaac Newton in London and Gottfried Leibniz, in what is now Germany, argued fiercely over who developed the mathematical technique of the calculus.

02Oxygen2004070820060425

In the 1770s, both Joseph Priestley in England and Antoine Lavoisier in France announced they had discovered oxygen.

But who really got there first?

032004071520060426

In the first half of the 19th century two geologists clashed over the age of rocks in Devon.

Suddenly it seemed the earth was much older than previously thought.

Roderick Murchison and Henry De la Beche battle it out.

042004072220060427

In Stalin's Russia, the pressure on plant scientists to increase food production led to political power being more important than scientific fact - with tragic consequences.

05 LAST2004072920060428

An acrimonious astronomical argument from the 20th Century.