GENIUS TALK: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries by Denis Brian

GENIUS TALK: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries

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Readers who enjoy a vicarious look at genius will find plenty of food for thought in Brian's conversations with some of the top scientists of our era. (The True Gen, 1988, etc.) is an excellent interviewer, and he has managed to corral an impressive herd of thinkers: Linus Pauling, Richard Feynman, Paul Dirac, and a number of others, in fields ranging from astrophysics to anthropology. Each interview begins with a brief biography of the scientist. Brian has a good sense of organization, and he intersperses the listing of facts with retrospective comments by the subject. Then he goes into the actual interview--most of them were conducted by telephone--and the book gets down to serious business. We are treated to Pauling's comments about vitamin C as a possible cure for cancer and about his left-wing politics; personal reminiscences of the atom bomb program by several of the men who made it work; and Ashley Montagu's explanation of why the sex drive is not innate. Brian has a few pet questions he asks all the interview subjects, mostly on religion, reincarnation, life after death, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and personal experiences with psychic phenomena. Naturally, each of the scientists has a different set of answers; the majority are skeptics, although several declare some sort of religious faith. (Of course, none of the scientists has any more direct pipeline to this sort of Truth than the rest of us.) The book is generally well documented, although it would be interesting to know exactly when each of the interviews was conducted; several clearly took place over a decade ago, and a few subjects were interviewed more than once. Well written, provocative, and full of interesting portraits of the leading thinkers of our age.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1995
Page count: 395pp
Publisher: Plenum