"Is there a recipe for research successes reaching the highest pinnacles? What are the common characteristics of discoveries that profoundly alter the world we live in? This fascinating book presents fifteen case studies that explore these questions in a manner both inviting and at once accessible to readers having all different backgrounds."
—Richard N. Zare, Stanford University, Wolf Prize laureate; King Faisal nternational Prize laureate
"Hargittai has succeeded in summarizing in a very skillful manner the lives of
many of the most important scientists of the last half of the twentieth
century. His seemingly casual style is adept in portraying the personalities
and motives of these scientists very vividly."
—Sidney Altman, Nobel laureate, Yale University
"Science, discovery and scientists: the right person, at the right time, in the right place. This book provides a thoughtful and vivid analysis of how scientific progress happens through some selected case studies. It should be of value to the practitioners but even much more so to the general educated public who wishes to get insight into the various processes underlying the quest for knowledge. Prometheus gave us the light and we cannot give it back. Science will shape our destiny!"
—Jean-Marie Lehn, Nobel laureate, France
"Yet another masterpiece by Istvan Hargittai, this time highlighting the multifarious patterns of human endeavour to be found behind some of the most fascinating and astounding chapters in the history of science."
—Arvid Carlsson, Nobel laureate, University of Goethenburg, Sweden
"Istvan Hargittai shares with us his fascinating insights into the passion and drive that lie behind some of the most important scientific discoveries of the last century. This is an invaluable book for those who want to go beyond the usual textbook descriptions of the scientific endeavor."
—Leon N Cooper, Nobel laureate, Brown University
Foreword by Carl Djerassi, Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, Stanford University,
Recipient of the first Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the National Medal of Science
and the National Medal of Technology
Preface by Sir Harold "Harry" Kroto, Nobel laureate,
Francis Eppes Professor, Florida State University
Introduction by Robert F. Curl, Nobel laureate,
K. S. Pitzer–Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences, Emeritus, Rice University
All scientists possess curiosity and a certain level of drive to pursue their work. But what impels those few scientists who rise above their peers to achieve breakthrough discoveries?
In a book full of revealing insights, Istvan Hargittai—a highly respected physical chemist himself—examines the careers of fifteen eminent scientists who achieved some of the most notable discoveries of the twentieth century. Dr. Hargittai was personally acquainted with all but two of the scientists whose work he discusses. He provides a unique perspective on the history of twentieth-century science based on these engaging personality profiles. They include:
·James D. Watson, the Nobel laureate and codiscoverer of the double helix structure of DNA;
·Linus Pauling, the Nobel laureate whose science will be remembered most for his work on the structure of proteins;
·Edward Teller, a giant of the twentieth century, who accomplished breakthroughs in our understanding of nuclear fusion;
·George Gamow, a pioneering scientist who devised the initially ridiculed and now accepted Big Bang origin of the universe.
In each case, Hargittai has uncovered a singular personality characteristic, motivational factor, or circumstance that, in addition to their extraordinary drive and curiosity, led these scientists to make outstanding contributions. For example, Gertrude B. Elion, who discovered drugs that saved millions of lives, was motivated to find new medications after the deaths of her grandfather and later her fiancé. F. Sherwood Rowland, who stumbled upon the environmental harm caused by chlorofluorocarbons, eventually felt a moral imperative to become an environmental activist. Rosalyn Yalow, the codiscoverer of the radioimmunoassay always felt she had to prove herself in the face of prejudice against her as a woman.
These and many more fascinating revelations make Drive and Curiosity a compelling page-turner and a must-read for everyone who wants to know what traits and circumstances contribute to a person’s becoming the scientist who makes the big breakthrough.
Pages: 328 (photos)
Shipping Weight: 2lbs
Istvan Hargittai, PhD, DSc (Budapest, Hungary), is the author of the critically acclaimed Judging Edward Teller; the six-volume Candid Science series of interviews with famous scientists; The Road to Stockholm: Nobel Prizes, Science, and Scientists; The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century; and The DNA Doctor: Candid Conversations with James D. Watson. Dr. Hargittai is Research Professor at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and a member of the Academia Europaea in London. He has honorary doctorates from Moscow State University, the University of North Carolina, and the Russian Academy of Sciences.