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The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case With Science and Forensics

by James O'Brien

One of the most popular and widely known characters in all of fiction, Sherlock Holmes has an enduring appeal based largely on his uncanny ability to make the most remarkable deductions from the most mundane facts. The very first words that Sherlock Holmes ever says to Dr. Watson are, "How are you? You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive. " Watson responds, "How on earth did you know that?" And so a crime-solving legend is born. In The Scientific Sherlock Holmes, James O'Brien provides an in-depth look at Holmes's use of science in his investigations. Indeed, one reason for Holmes's appeal is his frequent use of the scientific method and the vast scientific knowledge which he drew upon to solve mysteries. For instance, in heart of the book, the author reveals that Holmes was a pioneer of forensic science, making use of fingerprinting well before Scotland Yard itself had adopted the method. One of the more appealing aspects of the book is how the author includes real-world background on topics such as handwriting analysis, describing how it was used to capture the New York Zodiac killer and to clinch the case against the Lindbergh baby kidnapper. Sherlock Holmes was knowledgeable about several sciences, most notably chemistry. Therefore the book takes a close look at Holmes the chemist and discusses, for example, chemical poisons such as carbon monoxide, chloroform, and Prussic acid (the historical name for hydrogen cyanide). The author also debunks Isaac Asimov's famous assertion that Holmes was a blundering chemist. In addition, the book discusses mathematics, physics, biology, astronomy, meteorology, and geology, always in the context of Holmes's exploits. Sherlock Holmes continues to fascinate millions of readers and movie goers alike. The Scientific Sherlock Holmes is a must-read for the legion of fans of this most beloved of all fictional detectives.

Sustainable Communities on a Sustainable Planet: The Human-environment Regional Observatory Project

by Brent Yarnal Colin Polsky James O'Brien

Scientists and policymakers have realized that localities are central to addressing the causes and consequences of global environmental change. The goal of the Human-Environment Regional Observatory project (HERO) was to develop the infrastructure necessary to monitor and understand the local dimensions of global change. This book presents the philosophy behind HERO, the methods used to put that philosophy into action, its results, and the lessons learned from the project. HERO used three strategies: it developed research protocols and data standards for collecting data; it built a web-based networking environment to help investigators share data, analyses and ideas from remote locations; and investigators field-tested these concepts by applying them in diverse biophysical and socioeconomic settings - central Massachusetts, central Pennsylvania, southwestern Kansas, and the US-Mexico border region of Arizona. The book highlights the unique focus of HERO regarding thinking and acting on complex, integrative, and interdisciplinary global change science at local scales, and is valuable for global change scientists.

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