Forced to Choose
Marine microbiologist, prodigious author, science documentary
film producer and director of the National Science Foundation
The library at the Colwell residence numbers in the thousands of
volumes, and there is a little of everything. One book I have been
rereading is C. P. Snow's The Search, originally published
in 1934. It depicts the way science was done back then—it was
obvious no woman was going to succeed in that crowd. A more recent
book I've enjoyed is the Carl Djerassi novel Cantor's
Dilemma, about a scientist who has to decide whether to reveal
a possible error in an experiment for which he is about to receive a
Nobel Prize. Of course, I'd have to throw Paul de Kruif's wonderful
science detective story Microbe Hunters into the mix, and I
have read Arrowsmith and all of Sinclair Lewis. And then
there's The Double Helix for a sleazy inside view of how science is
done. For a glimpse at the peripatetic life of the scientist, I like
Arthur Koestler's The Call Girls. It sounds like something that
should be in a brown paper cover, but it's really all about
scientists going around and around to meetings.
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