- Lovelock , James Ephraim
- (1919–) British scientistA Londoner, Lovelock was educated at the universities of London and Manchester during the early years of World War II. After graduating in 1941 he joined the staff of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in London, where he worked on a variety of technical war-time problems including the measurement of blood pressure under water, the freezing of viable cells, and the design of an acoustic anemometer.After twenty years with the NIMR Lovelock began to feel that his creativity was being stifled by the security of his position as a scientific civil servant. Consequently he resigned and took up a short-term appointment with NASA. He was assigned to work on the first lunar Surveyor mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California.Lovelock left America in 1964 determined to set up as an ‘independent’ scientist. He claimed that he did not wish to be just one more consultant serving the needs, whatever they might be, of multinational companies – he wished to work at science without constraints, in the manner of a novelist or painter. In this manner Lovelock was able to make a number of important observations. While at NIMR he had developed a sensitive electron-capture detector. In the summer of 1966 he used it to monitor the supposedly clean Atlantic air blowing onto the west coast of Ireland. He detected chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Although unable to pursue the matter further through lack of funding, Lovelock managed to travel to the Antarctic in 1971 where, again, he found atmospheric CFCs. It was partly as a result of this work that Sherry Rowland began to ponder over their role in the atmosphere.It is, however, as the author of the Gaia hypothesis, first presented in his Gaia (London, 1979), and developed further in several sequels, that Lovelock is best known. Gaia has been widely accepted by Greens, conservationists, and New-Age thinkers. Lovelock argued in 1979 that the Earth, including its rocks, oceans, and atmosphere, as well as its flora and fauna, was a living organism “maintained and regulated by life on the surface.” He referred to it as ‘Gaia’ after the Greek Earth goddess – a suggestion made by the novelist William Golding. The hypothesis has been dismissed by scientists as “crudely anthropomorphic” and “pseudoscientific idiocy.” However, some see Gaia as a working hypothesis that can be tested and evaluated in the normal manner.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.