The main goal of this volume is to follow, in as full detail as the surviving documents and the memories of the participants permit, the investigative program that led Meselson and Stahl to perform the classic experiment referred to ever since as the Meselson-Stahl experiment. Extended portions of the investigative pathways of three other scientists have previously been reconstructed in a similar manner: Antoine Lavoisier, Claude Bernard, and Hans Krebs. The conviction underlying all these studies has been that if we are to understand deeply how major scientific discoveries originate, we must probe the “fine structure” of the research that produces them down to the level of the daily interplay between thought and action. Synoptic accounts of discovery tend to either leave the impression that scientific investigations proceed methodically, by linear sequences of logical steps to definitive solutions, or that mysterious mental leaps carry creative scientists over the conceptual barriers that do not yield to logic.
Keywords: investigative program, Meselson-Stahl experiment, Antoine Lavoisier, Claude Bernard, Hans Krebs, major scientific discoveries, scientific investigations, logical steps, mysterious mental leaps, logic
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