In this endlessly engaging volume, biologist Lewis Wolpert lets readers sit in as he talks with 23 of the world's leading scientists. What is day-to-day life like for a scientist? How have they hit upon their most important discoveries? What is the nature of scientific creativity?
Here, in this stimulating series of conversations, such eminent scientists as Murray Gell-Man, Jared Diamond, Gerald Edelman, Richard Lewontin, Roald Hoffman, and Carlo Rubbia talk candidly about their backgrounds, their careers, the people who have influenced or inspired them, and their most significant findings. We learn, for instance, how being an outsider or an "innocent" can play an invaluable role in overcoming conventional barriers to a new understanding. Indeed, even being a little crazy seems to help. As Nobel laureate Sheldon Glashow says, "if you would simply take all the kookiest ideas of the early 1970s and put them together, you would have made for yourself the theory which is, in fact, the correct theory of nature."
These conversations brim with insights into the minds of some of the great men and women of modern science. They offer as well an illuminating glimpse into the nature of scientific discovery.
`Someone actually interested in science proper would profit hugely from Passionate Minds by Lewis Wolpert and Alison Richards..a series of mesmerising interviews with living, working makers of the modern world'
The Guardian christmas section
`I was enthralled by the encapsulated biographies tweaked from their vessels by conversational nudges from Wolpert, who delicately and unobtrusively guides the conversations in directions that provide sometimes charming, sometimes deep insights into the springs of creativity'
`I found a delight on every page, and warmly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the human side of science...this book is a hugely enjoyable and instructive read'
`This is a wonderful and truly illuminating collection of interviews cum essays'
Introduction: More Passion for Science
Section I: In Two Minds
Carl Djerassi: Blemished heroes
Roald Hoffman: Tapeworm quadrilles
Jared Diamond: Worlds apart
Leroy Hood: Scaling the heights
David Weatherall: Clinical science
James Lighthill: Swimming with the tide
Section II: Against the Grain
James Lovelock: Freeing the mind
Peter Mitchell: Gardens of the mind
John Cairns: Not a company man
Richard Lewontin: Not all in the genes
Antonio Garcia-Bellido: In agreement with nature
Section III: Eureka
James Black: Daydreaming molecules
Gerald Edelman: Going into the dark
Michael Berridge: Hole in one
Elwyn Simon: Ways of seeing
Murray Gell-Man: Three quarks for muster mark
Sheldon Glashow: The wierdest of fancies
Nicole le Douarin: Directly to the heart
Section IV: Reflections
Gerald Holton: Other minds
Carlo Rubbia: Asking nature
David Pilbeam: A very tidy desk
Anne McLaren: Of mice and mothers
Avrion Mitchison: A family affair