Category Archives: People

In death, there is life

the-economist-logoMAX PLANCK, the inventor of quantum theory, once said that science advances one funeral at a time. He meant—or, at least, is presumed to have meant—that the death of a dominant mind in a field liberates others with different points of view to make their cases more freely, without treading on the toes of established authority. It might also rearrange patterns of funding, for they, too, often reflect established hierarchies…

This article first appeared in The Economist on 26 March 2016. To continue reading, click here.

Max Planck, 1933
Max Planck, 1933

Sedition in the stores

page11-nature_logoIN 1942, French photographer Robert Doisneau (perhaps best known for his image of a couple kissing outside the Hotel de Ville in the French capital) was commissioned to record life behind the scenes at the various arms of the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) in Paris. Most of the images have never been published. They are a unique document of the work of a research institute in occupied France during the Second World War. Now, a small jewel of an exhibition brings them out of the stores where they were taken, and places them in the limelight where they belong…

This article first appeared in Nature on 29 October 2015. To continue reading, click here.

© Atelier Robert Doisneau
© Atelier Robert Doisneau

 

Charles Sabine’s battle

il_logoIN 1996, an NBC war reporter and his crew were captured by a renegade platoon of mujahideen guerrillas near the Bosnian town of Doboj. As the sun set and the call to prayer went up, the reporter stared at a blood-spattered wall while a young warrior pulled the pin from a grenade, replaced it with his finger and pressed it to his head. The warrior closed his eyes and prayed…

This article first appeared in Intelligent Life in autumn 2009.

Anthony Allison, unsung hero

il_logoSIXTY years ago, a young graduate was kicking his heels in Oxford, waiting to embark on his medical studies, when he was invited to join an expedition to a country he knew well. Kenya was his childhood home, but this would be more than a nostalgia trip for him. His head stuffed with new-fangled notions about human evolution, he saw it as an opportunity to put his ideas to the test. Thus began one of the great unsung scientific journeys of the last century, whose impact continues to be felt in this one…

This article first appeared in Intelligent Life in spring 2009. To continue reading, click here.