"A salutary reminder that scientists are as human and fallible as anyone else." — Daily Telegraph
"Fun to read. Brooks . . . capers through the exploits of scores of brilliant and often ruthless rogues." — Financial Times
"A call to arms . . . Not some idealistic crusade; it has important implications." — BBC
"Brooks raises intriguing questions about the value of peer review panels and ethics boards, while illuminating much of the gritty real work performed in ivory towers around the world." — Publishers Weekly
"Not all scientists are nerds. In Free Radicals, physicist Michael Brooks tries to dispel the notion that scientists are stuffy, pen-protector-polishing bookworms." — Washington Post
"Insightful . . . a page-turning, unvarnished look at the all-too-human side of science." — Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. Brooks call for scientists to lift their heads and raise their voices while the rest of us ask hard questions and demand institutions that will bring more visionaries into play . . . Free Radicals presents a solid case." — New York Journal of Books
"Free Radicals illuminates the role of the irrational in science, the mistakes that make scientists human, and reveals that breakthroughs that change our lives in the most fundamental ways may have the most serendipitous origins." — Brain Pickings
"[Free Radicals] goes a long way toward making scientistsand sciencea lot more real to the public." — Science 2.0
"Free Radicals reminds readers that scientific advances sometimes require creativity and vision . . . A fascinating book."
"Brooks lays out, in fascinatingand often horrifying and discomfiting detailthe anarchy that underlies the scientific endeavor . . . it is a must read for every scientist on the planet, as well as anyone interested in science."
"Free Radicals is an exuberant tour through the world of scientists behaving badly."
A salutary reminder that scientists are as human and fallible as anyone else.
A call to arms . . . Not some idealistic crusade; it has important implications.
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.