978-0-19-854213-1 / 9780198542131

A Passion for Science


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

Based on a highly successful BBC series, A Passion for Science features thirteen informal conversations with eminent scientists--including physicists, molecular biologists, cancer researchers and astronomers--who speak with remarkable candor and good humor about the personal side of science: why they became scientists, what they find most rewarding about their work, and what it feels like to make a major discovery.
Their answers are often startling. For instance, Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam reveals that he became a scientist by chance: he wanted to be a Civil Servant in Pakistan, but when World War II forced the cancellation of the Civil Servant exam, he went to Cambridge for advanced study in mathematics (to do better on the exam) and there became involved in particle physics. Stephen Jay Gould candidly assesses his scientific talents (not a particularly good deductive thinker nor mathematically inclined, but excellent at finding hidden connections) and he explains why this talent can solve a Dorothy Sayers mystery but not one by Agatha Christie. Tony Epstein, co-discoverer of the Epstein-Barr Virus (the first virus shown to cause cancer), recounts his reaction to seeing the virus for the first time ("I switched the microscope off...and I went out and walked round the block two or three times before I dared come back!")
At once humorous, insightful, and inspiring, the stories these scientists tell offer a vivid portrait of scientific work, the day-to-day routine, and the moments that come once in a lifetime.

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