PASSION TO KNOW: The World's Scientists by Mitchell Wilson

PASSION TO KNOW: The World's Scientists

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Versatile Mitchell Wilson -- he's a novelist; also a former assistant to Enrico Fermi -- is best known for his popular American Science and Invention (1954) and while Passion To Know will probably not do as well for as long, its unpretentious but informative review of recent international scientific developments should immediately appeal to those who don't know a cyclotron from a quasar but would like to. Beginning with a bracing pep talk about that universal characteristic of all true scientists, curiosity, and several common trends and problems of modern science (current disillusionment about its efficacy to solve socio-technological crises; postwar questions of ethics about War and the Bomb; the gray line between pure and applied research), Wilson is soon off on a world tour, judiciously smarming scientists of all types and nationalities into talking about their work, trends in their fields, etc. He visits most of the scientifically developed countries (USA, USSR, England, France, Germany) and some which have only recently entered the lists (India, Australia, Israel). An advocate of Big Science, Wilson spends perhaps too much time on the politics of funding and too little on synthesizing new breakthroughs, but overall at the end of his traveling symposium you have a decent idea about who's who and what's what in the countries surveyed.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday