An Evening With Sol Spiegelman: The Creativity Dispute

[Editor's note: Is the work of a scientist creative by nature? Or, is the scientist's function to reflect reality by mirroring nature in a series of experiments reproducible by others? How does one measure the value of contributions made by any one scientist? By how well a particular researcher is remembered after he or she is dead? By the number of accolades and honors accrued? Or by the number of other scientists inspired by the researcher's work? These are among the questions world-renown

George Klein
Aug 19, 1990

[Editor's note: Is the work of a scientist creative by nature? Or, is the scientist's function to reflect reality by mirroring nature in a series of experiments reproducible by others?

How does one measure the value of contributions made by any one scientist? By how well a particular researcher is remembered after he or she is dead? By the number of accolades and honors accrued? Or by the number of other scientists inspired by the researcher's work?

These are among the questions world-renowned Swedish biomedical scientist George Klein raises as he reminisces about a visit with the late cancer researcher Sol Spiegelman, an American molecular biologist legendary for his laboratory productivity and willingness to aggressively investigate the longest of scientific long shots. In 1936, for example, Spiegelman, trained in both mathematics and biology, began to study bacteria in search of an understanding of cell genetics. This was indeed a revolutionary...

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