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World-leading natural and social scientists shed light on their discoveries and lives in conversation with an award-winning science writer

World-leading natural and social scientists shed light on their discoveries and lives in conversation with an award-winning science writer.

When acclaimed science writer Stefan Klein asks Nobel Prize–winning chemist Roald Hoffmann what sets scientists apart, Hoffmann says, 'First and foremost, curiosity.' In this collection of intimate conversations with 19 of the world's best-known scientists, Klein lets us listen in as today's leading minds reveal what they still hope to discover—and how their paradigm-changing work entwines with their lives outside the lab.

From the sports car that physicist Steven Weinberg says helped him on his quest for 'the theory of everything' to the jazz musicians who gave psychologist Alison Gopnik new insight into raising children, scientists explain how they find inspiration everywhere. Hear from: evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on selfishness; anthropologist Sarah Hrdy on motherhood; primatologist Jane Goodall on animal behaviour; neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran on consciousness; geographer Jared Diamond on chance in history; And other luminaries!


'Strongly recommended for biography readers and science enthusiasts who want to take a look at what events have shaped the lives of influential scientists, and how their scientific discoveries have changed the way they see the world.' —Universe Today


'The dazzling clutch of scientific minds caught in mid-thought here makes for a read that provokes thought in its turn … This collection sees science writer Stefan Klein interview the likes of anthropologist Sarah Hrdy and astronomer Martin Rees. Delights abound.' —Barbara Kiser, Nature


'[A] comprehensive book of ideas, distilled in language that even a layperson can understand.' —Thuy On, Sunday Age 'Klein has chosen an eclectic group to tackle everything from expected questions about their areas of study to issues concerning religion, morality, pain, and parenthood … He is exceedingly well read in the work of his interviewees, and they exchange ideas with ease, moving readily from deeply technical concepts to pop culture, making for an exceedingly welcome volume that will expose readers to all manner of topics that are likely new to them in a manner that focuses first on the lively personalities of the scientists, while slowly diving into their work … Truly enjoyable.' —Booklist


'If you want to get a glimpse of the workings of some great minds – and find out how a trip in a sports car led to a Novel Prize and what Lord Rees nearly ended up doing for a living – this is the book for you.' — BBC Focus


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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    November 18, 2015

    Scribe Publications

    288 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Stefan Klein

Survival of the Nicest: How Altruism Made Us Human and Why it Pays to Get Along
The Science of Happiness: How Our Brains Make us Happy and What we can do to get Happier


Elon Musk
How to Make a Spaceship
Future Crimes
Keeping Women in Science
Alan Turing: The Enigma
Thinking Machines
Chaos Monkeys
The Vaccine Race
The Knowledge Wars
Cracking the Code
Under the Microscope
The Joy Of Physics
The Geek Manifesto
Sex on the Moon
Self Comes to Mind
Stripping Down Science
The Sleepyhead's Bedside Companion