Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science

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Overview

The thrilling exploration of the secret side of scientific discovery —proving that some rules were meant to be broken scientists have colluded in the most successful cover-up of modern times. They present themselves as cool, logical, and level-headed, when the truth is that they will do anything —take drugs, follow mystical visions, lie and even cheat —to make a discovery. They are often more interested in starting revolutions than in playing by the rules. In Free Radicals, bestselling author Michael Brooks ...

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Free Radicals: The Secret Anarchy of Science

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Overview

The thrilling exploration of the secret side of scientific discovery —proving that some rules were meant to be broken scientists have colluded in the most successful cover-up of modern times. They present themselves as cool, logical, and level-headed, when the truth is that they will do anything —take drugs, follow mystical visions, lie and even cheat —to make a discovery. They are often more interested in starting revolutions than in playing by the rules. In Free Radicals, bestselling author Michael Brooks reveals the extreme lengths some of our most celebrated scientists —such as Newton, Einstein, and Watson and Crick —are willing to go to, from fraud to reckless, unethical experiments, in order to make new discoveries and bring them to the world's attention.

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Editorial Reviews

Daily Telegraph
A salutary reminder that scientists are as human and fallible as anyone else.
BBC
A call to arms . . . Not some idealistic crusade; it has important implications.
Kirkus Reviews
New Statesman columnist Brooks (13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time, 2008, etc.) delves into the rough-and-tumble world of scientific research. The stereotypical scientific researcher is a staid investigator, grinding away at his experiments while assiduously following the rules of the scientific method. As Brooks demonstrates, however, many of the leading lights of science were merely flawed human beings and not above bending or breaking rules in their quests for knowledge. His book lays bare the messy stories behind some of the greatest discoveries in scientific history. At least one Nobel Prize winner, he writes, is upfront about taking illegal drugs for inspiration. Some researchers, including the inventor of the cardiac catheter, recklessly used themselves as test subjects. Several legends of science, including Albert Einstein, even ignored or fudged research data that didn't fit with their theories; others callously betrayed research partners to claim sole credit for major discoveries. While Brooks condemns many of the more egregious injustices and unethical behaviors, he also asserts that outside-the-box thinking is not necessarily a bad thing and is indeed a necessity to push the boundaries of knowledge. "If we want more scientific progress," he writes, "we need to release more rebels, more outlaws, more anarchists." To that end, he makes a solid case for overhauling some longtime traditions, such as the see-no-evil discouragement of activism among scientists and the politics-laden peer-review system for scientific journals. Though Brooks dwells a bit much on the drug angle--much of the epilogue, for example, concerns his unsuccessful attempt to confirm if a famous DNA researcher used LSD--the overall narrative is enjoyable and insightful. A page-turning, unvarnished look at the all-too-human side of science.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590208540
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/26/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,145,409
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Brooks, who holds a PhD in quantum physics, is an author, journalist, and broadcaster. He is a consultant at New Scientist, a weekly magazine with over three quarters of a million readers worldwide, has a biweekly column for the New Statesman, and is the author of the bestselling non-fiction title 13 Things That Don't Make Sense. His writing has also appeared in the Guardian, the Observer, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Playboy. He has lectured at New York University, The American Museum of Natural History, and Cambridge University. Visit michaelbrooks.org

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 How it Begins 15

Dreams, drugs and visions from God

2 The Delinquents 41

Rules are there to be broken

3 Masters of Illusion 75

Evidence isn't everything

4 Playing with Fire 101

No pain, no gain

5 Sacrilege 133

Breaking taboos is part of the game

6 Fight Club 163

There's no prize for the runner-up

7 Defending the Throne 192

Machiavelli would be proud

8 In the Line of Fire 216

Life on the barricades

Epilogue 242

Acknowledgements 261

Notes and sources 263

Index 301

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Interesting read

    Fascinating look at the people behind the science .It shows how quickly being "right" equals forgiveness for any transgressions in achieving the result.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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