Insights from Notable Scientists
DOI link for Insights from Notable Scientists
Insights from Notable Scientists book
In previous chapters, we looked at the philosophy of the scienti€c method and some of the attributes needed by research scientists for a successful career. In this chapter, we will focus attention on individual scientists who have attained eminence and try to obtain some insights into their success. Thus, the main aim will not be to attempt to give biographical sketches but to focus on some of the unique features of their careers that might hold the secrets to their achievements. It is in no way meant to be a list of the greatest scientists but will select primarily some of those who €t the objective. When assessing the accomplishments of scientists, it is important to take into account the era in which they worked and thus the extent of knowledge at that time. Thus, it is unfair to play down the achievements of those who worked at earlier times based on the understandings of today. Science progresses through building on the advances made by those who have gone before. As Isaac Newton remarked, “If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”*
Marie Curie (née Skodlowska) grew up in Poland. Her father taught mathematics and physics, and her grandfather had been a teacher in Lublin. Her family, both on her paternal and maternal sides, lost their property and fortune through patriotic involvement in Polish national uprisings. She went to Paris in 1890 but, initially, could not afford university tuition. She returned to Warsaw in 1891, tutored for a short time, and then returned to Paris at the invitation of her sister. After brie¤y staying with her sister, she rented a primitive room and proceeded with her studies in physics, chemistry, and
mathematics at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). She studied during the day and tutored in the evenings, scarcely able to earn her keep. She obtained a degree at the Sorbonne in mathematics in 1894. She returned to Poland, believing she would be able to work there in her chosen €eld of study. However, she was denied a place at Krakow University, apparently because she was a woman, and returned to Paris.