The Search for Knowledge and Understanding

Maxwell R. Bennett AO

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Format: paperback
360 pages
ISBN: 9781742104492

Publication: 28 May 2019

Publisher: The University of Sydney

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For nearly a millennium, universities have searched for knowledge, understanding and truth. Internationally renowned neuro scientist, Professor Maxwell Bennett, evaluates the work of 20 of the greatest scholars in the University of Sydney’s history and shows how this university’s search has benefited society in manifold ways.

The Search for Knowledge and Understanding demonstrates an interdisciplinary approach, as Bennett crafts short but insightful biographies of some of the most significant scholars that have worked at Australia’s oldest university over the past half century, in medicine, the life sciences, the physical sciences and the humanities and social sciences.

Bennett provides a striking account of how this particular scholarly community has flourished by nurturing scholars and allowing them with the intellectual freedom to pursue their passions. The book clarifies the notion of understanding as it holds in different disciplines and depicts the benefit the world of scholarship can have on the wider community.

Max Bennett AO is university chair and professor of neuroscience at the University of Sydney. He has carried out pioneering research on synapses, and on the history and philosophy of the neurosciences.


1. Ancient Greek red-figure pottery: Arthur Dale Trendall
2. Medieval Icelandic sagas and poetry: Margaret Clunies Ross
3. Early Australian colonies and Federation: John Manning Ward

4. Protecting the common law from autocracy: Alice Erh-Soon Tay
5. Ensuring legal decisions reflect society’s mores: Julius Stone

6. Identifying instabilities in financial institutions: Warren Pat Hogan

7. Truth, time and causality: Huw Price
8. Brain and mind: David Armstrong
9. Foundations of modern science: Stephen Gaukroger

Physics, engineering and astronomy
10. Star magnitudes and the invention of the stellar interferometer: Robert Hanbury Brown
11. Radio signals from stars and the invention of the Mills Cross telescope: Bernard Mills
12. Radio signals from sunspots and the invention of the swept-lobe interferometer: Ruby Payne-Scot

Chemistry and geology
13. Photosynthesis and the quantum mechanics of electron transfer: Noel S. Hush
14. Discovery of land masses in Antarctica and Precambrian fossils: Tannatt William Edgeworth David

Biology, epidemiology and mathematics
15. Distribution and abundance of species: Louis Charles Birch
16. Biodiversity, the spread of diseases and mathematical predictions: Robert May
17. Malignant melanoma, rubella hearing loss and mathematical correlations: Henry Oliver Lancaster

Neuroscience, neurology and respiratory medicine
18. Seeing the world in three dimensions depends on identified neural mechanisms: Peter Bishop
19. Delaying nerve degeneration, inherited diseases and multiple sclerosis: James McLeod
20. Asthma risk factors identified as allergens and genetic predispositions: Ann Janet Woolcock

Epilogue: Knowledge and Understanding


Format: paperback
Size: 250 × 176 × 20⅜ mm
360 pages
Copyright: © 2019
ISBN: 9781742104492
Publication: 28 May 2019