Отличнейшея книга нобелевского лаурета по химии (1993) в виде автобиографических историй. Кэри пишет о своих женах, о том как он бухал и курил траву, о занятии виндсерфингом, о том как его украли инопланетяне вкупе с мировыми проблемами науки и загадке СПИДа. Если вы читали подобные истории из жизни Фейнмана («Вы, конечно, шутите, мистер Фейнман» о которых я писал в прошлогоднем книгозачите) — масса удовольствия вам гарантировано.
О общественной теории выбора:
James Buchanan advanced an ugly idea that got him a Nobel Prize in 1986. Buchanan cannot be held responsible for the ugliness; we can’t blame the messenger. It came to be known as public choice theory. You will recognize it and wonder why people get Nobel Prizes for pointing out such simple things. The answer is that most people can’t see the simple things and the simple things are always the most important.
Buchanan divided the world into four groups—voters, politicians, bureaucrats, and interest groups. Everyone in each of these groups wants something from the System, and everyone but the voters are organized professionals. The voters have to go to work every day. They cannot concentrate from nine to five on how to get something from the System. Most of us fall into the voter category.
О том что случилось с научным методом:
The chairman of the Federal Atmospheric Commission is having dinner tonight with his secretary and some expert they flew in from Cal Tech. He just announced tonight on CNN that his lab needed another $50 million dollars to study ozone depletion. Over swordfish, with the new science correspondent from CNN, they are congratulating themselves on what a smooth job they did today on the news. Crème caramel and B&Bs and cappuccinos later they promise to meet again in Oslo at the Envirocon World 2000 meeting next fall.
The ozone story is on NPR as you drive home from work. You feel terrible about all those years that your shaving cream came from an aerosol can, and your wife was using aerosol hairspray. You seem to be feeling guilty a lot these days—almost every time you turn on the news and hear about the environment.
You stop by Walgreen’s to get some shaving gel without CFCs. The large pepperoni pizza in the back seat stinks up the car and it’s getting cold, but you’ve done your best for the planet. The family isn’t impressed when you get home. Maybe you think it would be nice to have some B&B of your own tonight, but it’s April. Taxes are due, and your wife, watching Seinfeld, doesn’t want to talk about it and wouldn’t think it was safe for you to go down to the liquor store this time of night anyhow. Your daughter reminds you that you haven’t sent the check to Greenpeace, and by the way, she’s definitely going up the coast this weekend to the protest over the Marin Headlands Interior Department deal, and your wife says she can’t, and “Would you please talk to her, Dad. She acts like I’m going up there for fun.”
Is this you? Or were you the one with the mushrooms and red peppers?
О прошлых отношениях:
For three months I did sporadic experiments while my life with Jennifer, at home and in the lab, was crumbling. Progress in the lab was slow. Finally I retreated from the idea of starting with human DNA. I settled on something simpler, called a plasmid. The first successful experiment happened on December 16, 1983. It was dark outside when I took the autoradiogram out of the freezer and developed it. There, just where it should have been, was a little black band. A tiny little black band. It meant that I was going to be famous. I remember the date. It was the birthday of Cynthia, my former wife from Kansas City, who had encouraged me to write fiction and bore us two fine sons. I had strayed from Cynthia eventually to spend two tumultuous years with Jennifer. When I was sad for any other reason, I would also grieve for Cynthia. There is a general place in your brain, I think, reserved for “melancholy of relationships past.” It grows and prospers as life progresses, forcing you finally, against your better judgment, to listen to country music.
О химиках, физиках, математиках и философах:
They didn’t have that problem in the chemistry department, which was much larger than the biochemistry department. Consequently, their A60 was in use seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. It never had down time to lose tune, so the chemists didn’t have to learn how to align it. When the postdoc found our machine out of tune, he just assumed that the biochemists were screwing it up. This was typical of a chemist; chemists always believe they’re smarter than biochemists. Of course, physicists think they’re smarter than chemists, mathematicians think they’re smarter than physicists, and, for a while, philosophers thought they were smarter than mathematicians, until they found out in this century that they really didn’t have anything much to talk about.
О проблеме ВИЧ-СПИД:
When I first heard in 1984 that Luc Montagnier of France’s Pasteur Institute and Robert Gallo of America’s National Institutes of Health had independently discovered that the retrovirus HIV—Human Immunodeficiency Virus—caused AIDS, I accepted it as just another scientific fact. It was a little out of my field of biochemistry, and these men were specialists in retroviruses.
Four years later I was working as a consultant at Specialty Labs in Santa Monica. Specialty was trying to develop a means of using PCR to detect retroviruses in the thousands of blood donations received per day by the Red Cross. I was writing a report on our progress for the project sponsor, and I began by stating, “HIV is the probable cause of AIDS.”
I asked a virologist at Specialty where I could find the reference for HIV being the cause of AIDS.
—“You don’t need a reference,” he told me. “Everybody knows it.” — “I’d like to quote a reference.” I felt a little funny about not knowing the source of such an important discovery. Everyone else seemed to. — “Why don’t you cite the CDC report?” he suggested, giving me a copy of the Centers for Disease Control’s periodic report on morbidity and mortality.
I read it. It wasn’t a scientific article. It simply said that an organism had been identified—it did not say how. It requested that doctors report any patients showing certain symptoms and test them for antibodies to this organism. The report did not identify the original scientific work, but that didn’t surprise me. It was intended for physicians, who didn’t need to know the source of the information. Physicians assumed that if the CDC was convinced, there must exist real proof somewhere that HIV was the cause of AIDS.