Candid Science V: Conversations with Famous Scientists (Pt. by Balazs Hargittai

By Balazs Hargittai

Candid technology V: Conversations with well-known Scientists includes 36 interviews with recognized scientists, together with 19 Nobel laureates, Wolf Prize winners, and different luminaries. those in-depth conversations offer a glimpse into the best achievements in technological know-how up to now few many years, that includes tales of the discoveries, and displaying the human drama at the back of them. the best scientists are introduced into shut human proximity as though readers have been having a talk with them. This quantity departs from the former ones in that it comprises interviews with mathematicians as well as physicists, chemists, and biomedical scientists. one other peculiarity of this quantity is that it contains 9 interviews from one other undertaking, the gathering of the overdue Clarence Larson, former Commissioner of the Atomic strength fee and his spouse, Jane ("Larson Tapes"). The 36 interviewees contain well-known personalities of our time, resembling Donald Coxeter, John Conway, Roger Penrose, Alan Mackay, Dan Shechtman, Charles Townes, Arthur Schawlow, Leon Cooper, Alexei Abrikosov, Luis Alvarez, William Pickering, William Fowler, Vera Rubin, Neta Bahcall, Rudolf Peierls, Emilio Segre, Harold Agnew, Clarence Larson, Nelson Leonard, Princess Chulabhorn, Linus Pauling, Miklos Bodanszky, Melvin Calvin, Donald Huffman, Alan MacDiarmid, Alan Heeger, Jens Christian Skou, Paul Lauterbur, Gunther Stent, John Sulston, Renato Dulbecco, Baruch Blumberg, Arvid Carlsson, Oleh Hornykiewicz, Paul Greengard, and Eric Kandel.

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Extra info for Candid Science V: Conversations with Famous Scientists (Pt. 5)

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It’s very easy to make three circles have contact; the fourth one will go in between in the middle or outside. So you have four circles in mutual contact. Soddy noticed that if you don’t consider the radii themselves but their reciprocals, the curvatures of the circles, then the four curvatures satisfy a nice quadratic relationship: the sum of the squares of the curvatures is half the square of their sum. He didn’t know that this was already discovered hundreds of years before by Descartes. Soddy wrote the theorem and the proof in the form of a poem and sent it to the magazine, Nature, where it was actually published.

From then on it took a little while to convince myself that I was not going to worry and that I was going to study what seems interesting to me without worrying what the rest of the world thinks about it. It’s been rather hard to live up to it at times. For instance, when I moved from Cambridge to Princeton I started giving some graduate lectures about what I’d been doing the last few years. There, in the audience, were very famous mathematicians at Princeton who were all coming along to hear me.

We’re going to publish this paper, of course, but I want to understand it myself. In doing that, I can throw away the international convention. It’s a pity. Here I see this chemist or physicist and I can see he is talking about the same things but I see him as limited by having to accept the baggage; he doesn’t annoy me, rather, I pity him. Physics and chemistry are full of historical notations. And so is mathematics but we’re less reluctant to give up old notations in mathematics, since the whole aim of mathematics is to get some kind of understanding of what’s going on.

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