THE SCIENTIFIC LIFE by Theodore Berland


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Theodore Berland's generally entertaining, always energetic The Scientific Life comes with some public relations blather about the need to hop-up America to the cause of the ""new man"", thereby making us realize we live in the era of the egghead and not that of Mickey Mantle or Liz Taylor. Yet when the descriptions deal with the day-to day lives (what's it like in the lab, in the home) of the representative nine (chemist Libby, physicists Gell Mann, Townes, Van Allen and Wooldridge, biologists Sabin, Southam and Slamler, and sociologist Hauser), then the volume itself goes a little gaga like the popular magazines (who enjoys camping, who won his wife on a puffin hunt, etc.). Fortunately, however, Berland has a good eye for biographical touches and topical assessments, along with a good ear for recording flesh-and-blood dialogue; thus we get some sharp answers to some straight questions, e.g. Sabin attacking formalist Cold War thinking; Stamler denouncing research rackets; Libby decrying go-slow atomic tests; Gell-Mann's ""strangeness principle"" coming to him through a mistake made while lecturing; Townes arguing that science is exploring the same territories as religion; Hanser regarding science as the most ""subversive"" of man's pursuits and Wooldridge bemoaning the prospect of a nuclear bomb accident. In short, a thoroughly sizeable, stimulating, if sometimes synthetic, salute to our new culture heroes and the challenges which made them and which might one day break them.

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 1962
Publisher: Coward-McCann