Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Conversations with 24 Nobel Laureates on their life stories, advice for future generations and what remains to be discovered

Stefano Sandrone

“When I won, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. I was going to visit so I decided I’d bring my Nobel Prize. You’d think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was until I tried to leave Fargo with it and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays – it’s completely black. And they’d never seen anything completely black.”

This description by Brian Schmidt, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics, is just one of countless, equally entertaining, episodes that Stefano Sandrone talks about with 24 Nobel Laureates. Sandrone’s participation in the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was the starting point for Nobel Life, as this experience inspired the neuro-scientist and current Senior Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London to follow up his exchange with the “stars of science” in the extensive form of a book.

The range of topics discussed on the more than 200 pages is extremely versatile as these examples show: Experiences with difficulties not only in science but also existential hardships in life in general – ideas on the meaning of life/the quest for the sense of life – basic science vs. applied science – ideas vs. technology – interdisciplinarity – competition vs. collaborative science – successful teams of scientists – mentoring – publishing/assessment criteria – funding – democratizing science (economically) – fake news – and even metaphysics of some sort.
As well as various cross references of science: science diplomacy – science communication – science and politics – science and society – science serving humanity – women in science – science and art/music – science and school – science and a family – online science/teaching.

In addition, readers also find suggestions for many more books and other media about science. And they find a number of practical career tips in this book. Scientists in particular get first-hand advice from Nobel Laureates on what to do when a call from Stockholm wakes you up – whether it’s in business class on an intercontinental flight or after taking a sleeping pill to purposely miss that very call.

Advanced Praise:
“Stefano Sandrone’s wonderful gift to the readers of this book is an opportunity to spend a few precious private moments with 24 Nobel Prize winners. There is wisdom and valuable advice in each chapter but it is the insights into each Nobelist as a real person, with real life stories that makes this book very special.”
Magdalena Skipper, Editor in Chief of Nature
Nobel Life offers tantalising glimpses into the Nobel Prize winners’ works, their ideas and their personalities. Showing the humanity of some and the humanness of all, we see curiosity and creativity, collaboration and competition, selfishness and generosity, graciousness and haughtiness.
Shirley M. Malcom, Head of Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
“In these touching conversational portraits of Nobel laureates the reader is invited to follow their scientific quest and personal life trajectories, often marked by unexpected turns. Stefano Sandrone succeeds in revealing the human side of brilliant scientists who emerge as individuals with their passions and quirks, yet humble and with a sense of social responsibility.”
Helga Nowotny, Former President of the European Research Council
“No interviews have ever discussed all the facets of the lives of these explorers of unknown territories in the sciences and medicine. The author has formulated intelligent questions to intelligent people.”
Anders Bárány, Former Deputy Director of the Nobel Museum

Nobel Laureates Interviewed and Titles of the Chapters
Peter Agre: Eureka and Disney World – Françoise Barré-Sinoussi: I’ll Show You What a Woman Can Do – Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Hamilton O. Smith: Christ¬mas and Carol – Martin Chalfie, Hamilton O. Smith and Johann Deisenhofer: Mentoring – Aaron Ciechanover and Edmond H. Fischer: Toys’ Story – Richard R. Ernst: Flying High – Roald Hoffmann: The Periodic Table – Tim Hunt: Clarity – Daniel Kahneman: Words and People – Eric R. Kandel and Torsten N. Wiesel: Memory and Vision – Allan Penzias, Hamilton O. Smith and David J. Gross: The Big Bang Practice – John C. Mather: Houston, We Have a Solution and Many Questions – Kary B. Mullis: Rocket Science – Roger B. Myerson: Leadership and Society – Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: Know Thyself – Randy W. Schekman: Impact Factors – Brian P. Schmidt: À la Recherche of Space and Time – Robert M. Solow: Of Kings and Cabbages – Roger Y. Tsien: A Stroke of Colour

Nobel Life
Conversations with 24 Nobel Laureates on their Life Stories, Advice for Future Generations and What Remains to be Discovered.
225 pages
Release day (hardback/e-book): 17 June 2021 (UK), 12 August (USA)
Price: £19.99/$ 24.99

Few people have changed the world like the Nobel Prize winners. Their break-through discoveries have revolutionised medicine, chemistry, physics and economics. Nobel Life consists of original interviews with twenty-four Nobel Prize winners. Each of them has a unique story to tell. They recall their eureka moments and the challenges they overcame along the way, give advice to in¬spire future generations and discuss what remains to be discovered. Engaging and thought-provoking, Nobel Life provides an insight into life behind the Nobel Prize winners. A call from Stockholm turned a group of twenty-four scientists into Nobel Prize winners. This is their call to the next generations worldwide.

About the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
Since their foundation in 1951, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have developed into a unique international scientific forum. The annual Meetings provide an opportunity for an exchange between different generations, cultures and disciplines. The theme of the Lindau Meetings alternates between Physics, Chemistry or Physiology and Medicine – the three Nobel Prize scientific disciplines. Every five years an interdisciplinary Meeting takes place, while the Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences is held every three years. Through the medium of various declarations (2020 for Open Sciences, 2015 on Climate Change, 1955 against the Use of Nuclear Weapons,) the scientists have repeatedly joined in the public debate with political appeals.

About The Author

Stefano Sandrone

Dr Stefano Sandrone is an Italian neuroscientist working at Imperial College London. He was selected as a young scientist at the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Physiology an...

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