Dr. James E. Lovelock, 1996


The true opposite of a reductionist

The Prize Jury´s citation:

The Volvo Environment Prize for 1996 is awarded to Dr. James E. Lovelock, F.R.S., for his invention of the Electron Capture and Photo-ionisation Detectors, nowadays indispensable tools in modern analytical chemistry and essential for the recognition and measurement of minute traces of pollutant substances and other chemical compounds in the environment

Doomsday Pending? James Lovelock on The Hour, 27 May 2009

Lovelock’s scientific contributions, beginning with his early work in the medical sciences, is particularly rooted in two, as it would first appear, unrelated scientific fields: instrumental engineering and biochemistry. An important part of his work has been inventions. In total, Lovelock has filed more than 30 patents, mostly for detectors for use in chemical analysis. He worked with NASA in their preparations for the first lunar landing. NASA wanted Lovelock to design a device to detect if there might be substances dangerous to man on the surface of the moon.  It was while working as a consultant for NASA that Lovelock developed the Gaia Hypothesis, for which he is most widely known.

Lovelock invented the electron capture detector, which ultimately assisted in discoveries about the persistence of CFCs and their role in stratospheric ozone depletion. After studying the operation of the Earth’s sulfur cycle, Lovelock and his colleagues developed the CLAW hypothesis as a possible example of biological control of the Earth’s climate.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962 had a massive impact on the environmental debate and movement. It is not equally well known that James Lovelock’s invention the Electron Capture Detector was used by scientists to reveal the core information, on the distribution of pesticide residues and other halogen-bearing chemicals, of the book.

Gaia hypothesis
Author of the GAIA theory, named after Gaya greek godess of the world, which states that life on Earth functions as a single organism. Basically Lovelock says that the earth is one giant interdependent living system that regulates itself. It keeps chemical levels temperature and other conditions optimal to keep life going. Until the humans came along…

Lovelock is also renowned for supporting nuclear power as a way of cutting carbon emissions

Lovelock is an independent scientist working out of a lab in Cornwall, England, that used to be a barn. For years he has been sounding the alarm on climate change.
New book: The vanishing face of Gaya: A final warning

“We have passed the point of no return. We have reached a point where civilization itself is threatened and we have no one to blame but our own ignorance and greed.”

 On his work at the National Institute of Medical Research:
“Physicists, chemists, biologists and medical scientists talked and planned together in the coffeeroom or the cafeteria. For a while the institute was a fertile island of creativity in a sea of mediocracy…At the institute it was the tradition of those days never to read the literature, especially not textbooks. Senior scientists warned that our job was to make the literature, not read it, which was a recipe that worked well for me. Had I read the literature on ionization phenomena in gases before doing my experiments, I would have been hopelessly discouraged and confused. Instead I just experimented.”

More information:
Read more on James Lovelocks facinating life as an independent scientist & environmentalist and about the Gaia theory: http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/lovedeten.htm

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