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Posts tagged with "Who Discovers and Why"

  • Who Discovers and Why

    The Best Bad News He Ever Had

    The January 22 issue of Nature has a fine essay by Freeman Dyson (a hero of mine, I should add) about a fateful meeting he had with Enrico Fermi back in 1953. This was back when Dyson was a professor at Cornell, studying both the weak and strong nuclear forces. There was a fine theoretical… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    . . .Your Huddled Pharmas Yearning to Breath Free

    Genetic Engineering News reprints parts of a speech given by Rolf Krebs, chairman of the German drug firm Boehringer Ingleheim, at a recent conference in Hannover. Dr. Krebs was speaking on the differences in pharma research between Europe and America, and he didn’t leave much bottled up: “The framework conditions for the pharmaceutical… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

    Weinberg’s “Golden Lessons”

    Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg had a piece back in the Nov. 27 Nature (p. 389) offering advice to people just starting their scientific careers. It’s useful stuff, and the lessons aren’t just for beginners, either. His first of “Four Golden Lessons” is No one knows everything, and you don’t have to. (This came from his… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

    Easy Parts and Hard Parts

    I’ve been reading George Dyson’s interesting history of Project Orion, the late-1950s attempt to design a spacecraft powered by sequential nuclear explosions. (A borderline crazy idea, it very likely would have worked. The big question became whether it should be allowed to work at all.) He quotes his father, Freeman Dyson, about the ea… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why


    Now that I’ve had a chance to look over the Wall Street Journal’s article on Bristol-Meyers Squibb, it occurs to me that I’ve seen this behavior many times. I don’t mean the financial voodoo (although I’ve seen that at second hand, just like anyone else who pays attention to the markets.) What I mean is… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

    Europe, Again

    Stephen den Beste has a good article about European innovation in science and technology. Well, actually, it’s about the lack of it, as a symptom of the increasing differences between the US and Western Europe in general. Along the way, he mentions the bright spots in what he calls a “high-tech disaster area,” among them… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

  • Who Discovers and Why

    So What’s A Worthwhile Problem, Anyway?

    My last post naturally leads to that question. I can only speak for my own specialties, organic and medicinal chemistry. An example of really worthwhile problems in the former would be (to pick a few at random): how to form quaternary carbon chiral centers, how to get metal-catalyzed couplings to work more generally and reproducibly… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

    Anything Worth Doing. . .

    There are several types of questions in science. You could plot them on a graph, with axes labled “Important / Trivial,” “Hard to Answer / Easy to Answer,” to pick two useful distinctions. Note that those don’t always correlate as well as you’d think. There have been profound scientific questions that turned out… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

    Giordano Bruno

    I missed a chance yesterday to note an anniversary. Giordano Bruno was something of a crank, not normally the sort of person I’d be commemorating. But in his time, it didn’t take very much to be considered either of those, or worse, and we have to make allowances. He was headstrong. We can see now… Read More