Sunday, September 14, 2008

A. E. Douglas by George Ernest Webb

Want to learn more about A.E. Douglas and the part he played in establishing Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff? Then you'll want to take a little trip to the library, your favorite used bookstore or to find a copy of Tree Rings and Telescopes: The Scientific Career of A. E. Douglass by George Ernest Webb. In its pages you will find that and much more.

Beginning with the first page of the preface, Webb catches your attention and doesn't let you go until the end of the last chapter, The Final Quest.

The first paragraph begins with, "On March 15, 1960, more than 100 persons gathered on the sun-warmed summit of a southern Arizona mountain to dedicate Kitt Peak National Observatory. From the beginning of the ceremonies, one man gained particular notice. Andrew Ellicott Douglass (1867-1962), ninety-three years old, listened intently to the speakers and carefully explored the site of the largest single collection of astronomical instruments in the United States."

Webb ends with, "Few scientists establish enviable reputations in two fields; fewer still create and entirely new discipline. Douglass's success in achieving both these feats assures his place among the leaders of modern science."

And in the 190 pages in between, he details the career of A. E. Douglass. From Harvard University, to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, to the University of Arizona in Tucson, Steward Observatory and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, his impact on the making of science in the Southwest is explored with a sense of wonder and admiration.

This book is well-researched and includes extensive chapter notes and an impressive bibliography. I highly recommend it.

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