Is Science Necessary?

Max F. Perutz, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (285p) ISBN 978-0-525-24673-2
In 1940, Perutz, then an Austrian refugee scientist living in England, was arrested and deported to Canada by British officials; in Quebec he studied theoretical physics with Klaus Fuchs, who later passed atomic secrets to the Russians. This experience forms the basis for ``Enemy Alien,'' the strongest essay in this miscellany by a Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist. ``Atom Spy,'' a companion piece, traces Fuchs's resolve to decide the world's fate to an arrogance bordering on megalomania. The title essay, a review of practical applications of science, scrutinizes advances in pest control, renewable energy, contraceptives, genetic engineering and medicine. In human terms, Perutz profiles eccentric Scotsman Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, and Max Planck, rebel and fighter, who introduced the revolutionary concept of the quantum. In a dozen book reviews, he offers acute observations on AIDS research, organ transplants, advances in vaccines and Darwinism. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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