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Drive and Curiosity: What Fuels the Passion for Science

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1616144685
ISBN-10: 1616144688
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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? Drive and Curiosity 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 International Prize laureate

"Scientific discoveries that change the existing paradigm of their fields are few and far between. By examining the individuals and circumstances at the center of fifteen such breakthroughs, Istvan Hargittai has revealed in an elegant and personalized way the differing motivations and compulsions that drove the discoveries. His study reveals how curiosity, passion, persistence, resiliency, competitiveness, and the pride of accomplishment undoubtedly contributed to these monumental discoveries. Throughout each, the underlying driving force is what Horace Judson once referred to as ‘the rage to know’ and the ‘acute discomfort of unknowing.’ So long as science remains a difficult, exciting, and beautiful pursuit, confronting the limits of what is knowable will flourish."
—Paul Berg, Nobel laureate, Stanford University

"What a variety of ways people have found to be creative! Hargittai’s most readable account of some of our scientific heroes and heroines focuses on their motivations, what drove them. Sorry, no secret to success, no philosopher’s stone—just some smart, hardworking people trying to do their darndest to understand the world. I find this very encouraging."
—Roald Hoffmann, Nobel laureate, chemist, writer

"I read this fascinating book in an evening, intrigued by the varied backgrounds and motivations of the fifteen scientists portrayed. ‘Drive,’ yes, but for what? Sometimes for fame, but as often, it seems, to do good work, to merit the name, ‘scientist.’"
—Richard L. Garwin, IBM fellow emeritus; recipient of the National Medal of Science

"Perhaps nothing honors the spirit of the human race more than scientific discovery. Unlike other cultural achievements, science is universal; it is the result of the highest imagination and the deepest thinking. Hargittai’s book tells the fascinating details of the work of fifteen leading modern scientists who have changed the world. The book is, incidentally, an ideal gift to adolescents who show an interest in science."
—Peter Lax, professor emeritus of mathematics, Courant Institute, New York University; recipient of the National Medal of Science and the Abel Prize

"Istvan Hargittai has done it again. His analyses of Nobel-class scientists provide a unique perspective on the sources of creativity in science."
—Eugene Garfield, chairman emeritus, ThomsonReuters Scientific (formerly ISI); editor emeritus, The Scientist

About the Author

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616144688
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616144685
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,572,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hargittai is a true insider in the world of high level science. This book reveals the names and careers of people who have contributed significantly to our lives and to the course of history during the past 70 years. Some of them are well known figures, some of them not really known to the public. Hargittai is very good at revealing little known but illuminating details about all of them. He has additional information for even well known figures such as Leo Szilard and James Watson. He has personally met and interviewed most of the people in the book, giving his writing an added zip, an extra soupçon of flavor.

This is a must read for anyone interested in science and technology.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This review is from: Drive and Curiosity: What Fuels the Passion for Science (Hardcover) by Istvan Hargittai
I have read most of Istvan Hargittai's books, and I can attest that they are highly informative, readable, and enjoyable. Especially nowadays, when in America and Europe (but not in China, India, and several South-Eastern Asian countries) the young generation prefers the easier paths of legal and/or business careers, Hargittai's books should be recommended reading to high-school youngsters.
The present book spans in 15 chapters a wide range of scientific topics (illustrated by the corresponding scientists): physics (Teller, Szilard), crystallography (Shechtman), astrophysics (Gamov), environmental science (Rowland), conducting polymers (Heeger, McDiarmid, Shirakawa), chemistry (Pauling, Bartlett, Furka), medicine (Mansfield, Lauterbur), biochemistry (Yalow, Elion, Hitchings, Mullis), and biology (Watson). Several of these scientists were awarded Nobel Prizes.
In his foreword, Carl Djerassi deplores the inclusion of Kari Mullis, not because his Nobel Prize in Chemistry was undeserved, but because (i) due to his erratic behavior, he is not a role model, and (ii) circumstances downplayed outstanding contributions to the discovery/invention of the polymerase chain reaction by others, who were not mentioned by Mullis in his publications.
Also in other cases essential contributions went unrewarded by the Nobel Committee, and such a case is mentioned for the 2003 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, when Damadian's name could have been the third laureate along with Mansfield and Lauterbur.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the interest of full disclosure I must say I have known Hargittai, the author of Drive and Curiosity, for several years in person, and for a much longer time through his books and scientific articles. I admire his breadth of knowledge and scientific accomplishments, and to that extent the reader of this review can hold me to account for objectivity. On the other hand familiarity with his personality, interests, and cultural and scientific background brings into play a certain kind of objectivity, not otherwise obtainable, of some importance to the analysis of this particular written work.
Fortunately the book has a well recognized goal of imparting to the reader that "feeling" for what is great science and what are the circumstances wherein it is carried out. It is written in the clean efficient style characteristic of successful storytelling. Science is a many sided activity and a well rounded feeling for it is best obtained by hearing of it from its many different points of view. Each of the stories told in separate chapters have been carefully and wisely chosen to reflect a particular aspect of science and the personality and circumstances in which that aspect could be fulfilled. Just as a diamond is judged by the reflection of its several facets, the well cut chapters of this book analogously reflect the remarkable jewel that is the full scientific enterprise. Science arises from the professions of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, etcetera. Practically all the aspects of great science, and the great types of personality doing the science are necessarily represented in the story telling of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Hargittai has written biographies of scientists, most of whom he has personally interviewed. This book focuses on 15 scientists who have made major discoveries, some very well-known such as James Watson and Edward Teller, some well-known only to people in their field. In these fascinating stories, I was struck by the determination and persistence of the discoverers, the obstacles of discrimination and indifference some had to overcome, and their personal stories. Hargittai chooses interesting anecdotes, and explains the general importance of the discoveries. The public's view of discoveries as "Eureka!" moments is esily refuted by the real stories of these hard-working pioneers.
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Format: Hardcover
With humor and clever twists that invite the reader to discover his world, Hargittai reveals a careful examination of the drive and curiosity that underlie all that we do. He achieves this by examining the motivation behind some of the most outstanding ideas that have come forth from science in the twentieth century.

Hargittai talks about Drive and Curiosity as two separate things. He sites various thinkers to treat each concept with distinct separation. It is only after he develops the chapters that we see Drive and Curiosity as a united concept. He goes on to explain how Drive and Curiosity lead to the many wonderful scientific discoveries, including the double helix of the DNA strand.

Among these thinkers particular attention is focused on Dan Shechtman, the 2011 Nobel laureate and discoverer of quasiencrystals; James D. Watson, the Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA; Linus Pauling, the Nobel laureate remembered most for his work on the structure of proteins; Edward Teller, accomplished breakthroughs in understanding nuclear fusion; George Gamow, who devised the Big Bang Theory.

Here is a read that will cause you to reflect on what makes a scientist a scientist and discover unique things. It will grab your intellect and won't let you go until you feel inspired about what science does in the modern world.
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