Thirteen case studies of scientific or technological quests, with the solution to each scientific puzzle depending on understanding at the cellular, atomic, or subatomic level. The studies themselves cover a span of over 150 years; the scientists range from the renowned and well-rewarded to those denied recognition because of their race, sex, or youth. Individual discoveries--vulcanization of rubber, radium, aluminum purification, etc.--are compactly described, but the book is uneven. It's not always clear exactly what the explanations are also not always clear and contain odd little errors (e.g., describing a capacitor as having two metal plates separated by carbon); and various social and personal facts bearing on sex or race discrimination, unfair credit, etc., are not well integrated into the technical material. Because the necessity for using laboratory animals is not discussed, the story of insulin could be misread as fuel for antivivisectionists. Of value chiefly where short reports are commonly assigned.