The Beginners Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize: Advice for Young Scientists

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Peter Doherty shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with Rudolf Zinkernagel for their discovery in the s of 'the nature of cellular immune defence'.

Doherty qualified originally as a vet, and then moved into research science. Somewhere inside this page book there's a really good page essay. Pretty much every page had me reaching for my re Peter Doherty shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with Rudolf Zinkernagel for their discovery in the s of 'the nature of cellular immune defence'. Pretty much every page had me reaching for my red pen, as cliche piled up on cliche and basic references were over explained "family rivalries Doherty wrote the book, I think, as part of his sense of obligation to use the platform that winning a Nobel Prize gives one to speak strongly for the need for society and politicians to support science, but also for scientists to be considerate of society - the chapter about science and religion is interesting, with its caution that the science community needs to beware of becoming reactionary in their own behaviour when faced with opposition from religious groups.

Where Doherty is particularly interesting is in his writing about the business of being a science researcher - of how careers are developed, of how a research team is set up and operates, of the crucial nature of publishing one's findings in the right place at the right time, of how political and financial support help build centres of excellence, and of the dangers of being sucked into committees, administration and speaking tours. Doherty writes well about the experience and effects of being awarded a Nobel Prize. Has also obviously turned his scientific bent for data onto Nobel Prize winners, with various analyses of nationality, religious or cultural affiliations, etc.

Where the book is particularly weak is in Doherty's explanation of his own work. Immunology is an intrinsically interesting topic well, I think so, anyway and his chapter about the history of research and practice in this area is solid but not by any means better than ones I'e read elsewhere, and his description of his own work is not by any means an ah-hah!

What Doherty does supply is an excellent bibliography. Reading this book put me on to James Gleick's bio of Feynman, James Watson's simultaneously wonderful and infuriating 'The Double Helix' and a terrific book about the flu epidemic by John M Barry that I plan to re-read as soon as I get some breathing space.

Apr 28, Marcos Feole rated it liked it Shelves: Peter Doherty is an australian Nobel Prize winner, and in this book he explains very well how it is to be immersed as a researcher in academy. He discusses about his own research, about the issues and possible solutions of australian research centres, and about academy life in general, both with the early graduate student perspective and the senior researcher perspective, among other thinks.

However, it becomes very technical from time to time, and the non-technical reader gets confunsed very easily with all the complicated words. Fot those who are interested in a career in academy in any other subject than biology or medicine, the book is interesting and advisable too, but you should avoid the technical chapters. Jul 18, Yas Ye rated it did not like it. Ok, here we go! I honestly think Peter should say his gratitude for his scientific achievements and just stop writing. After reading two of his books "Knowledge Wars" and this particular abomination I can see that he is just not cut for that kind of gripping, engaging and mellifluous writing that a lot of people like me who decide to read nonfiction are looking for.

The book was mostly redundant with a blatantly "clickbaity" title. May 26, Ngaio rated it it was ok Shelves: I received a copy of this via net galley in exchange for an honest review. There are little bits of a lot of topics nestled into this work, just about all of them having to do with science or the prize in some way, but trying to identify a single theme was difficult. His lack of organized focus made cyphering out his points harder at time. By having voters who are actually informed by real science instead of rhetoric and emotional pandering politicians would have to actually address problems in a meaningful way.

He talks at length about genetically modified organisms and climate change as examples of instances where misinformation and emotion get in the way of science and progress. Doherty was very thorough with these issues, although he did stick to the science aspect and did not really go into the economic reasons people protest GMO.


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Overall, there is not so much science as to lose a reader. The middle of the book where he discusses the actual discovery that won him the prize is pretty complex. He acknowledges that he is simplifying his work so that a non-specialist could follow him, but it was a bit much for me. It has a couple of—not particularly useful—diagrams, but it could have used a few more.

Slogging through the technical part was worth it, however, because he does get back to discussing science and the experience of scientists. I found that really interesting. I was especially interested in the global aspect of the work. I also found his characterization of science as a creative pursue to be intriguing. That was not my experience of science, but I can see how high-level research science might allow for—or require—some creative thought. This book was originally published in and has been reissued with a new introduction by Doherty which reflects on the original book as well as updates a few numbers e.

That said some of the references in the book are still a bit dated. For instance, he talks about Nelson Mandela as being alive. It made me wonder how up-to-date the science presented was if the references were old. The last chapter is looking forward to the future of science. He talks about his work and briefly mentions his family and his upbringing, but otherwise there the only bit of himself he seems to have put in are his opinions on a handful of scientific issues and on the relationship between science and industry.

Most of these he backs up with evidence, the exception being his stated views on cloning, but he again leaves out the problems associated with letting industry drive science rather than vice versa. Again, this is a science book not an economic book.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize: A Life in Science

Overall, I got a lot out of this book. Sep 19, Lyana Khairuddin rated it liked it. And by chance a fellow course-mate gifted me this book and now I am jinxed. This book in itself is not an "idiot's guide" pun intended to win the Nobel Prize.

The Beginner's Guide To Winning The Nobel Prize: A Life In Science

It also serves as a reminder that no matter how hard one works, there still needs to be a little element of luck involved and even if success, riches, and glory doesn't happen- if we love what we do, then it is still okay. I love how the author treated this book as a semi-autobiography. In a way it is different than Watson's The Double Helix, which focussed solely on his Nobel-winning discovery I love that book too and Jim Watson is another personal hero of mine, with the exception of his, Crick's and Wilkin's initial treatment to Rosalind Franklin I personally enjoyed Doherty's almost comic way of narrating his experience at the Nobel ceremony and his jest about Australians in general; "Minor criminality is embedded in the Australian experience" on testing their assay on different mouse strains without explicit permission from the lab head Only the Ozzies!

Another example is Barry Marshall and his ingestion of H. Doherty did not dream of the Nobel prize, all he was obsessed with was understanding the immunopathology of infection. There's a bigger motivational life-story and overall discussion about life within this book. I think that many will benefit from reading it, not just scientists. I grew up in a hot, humid, place where the sun shone pitilessly and I was always getting burnt.

There is a freshness to the air, a sense of possibility. This is how to book starts. This is how you or your child will become a Nobel Prize winner in a few easy steps. Of course, he has no practical experience, but that does not stop him from having an expert oppinion. Chapter three dives right in the subject. It starts with graduate, maybe even postgraduate student. So time is not an issue here. And the life and experiences before are useless. Children should play more. It takes a lot of brown nosing to become a postgraduate.

The Beginner's Guide To Winning The Nobel Prize: A Life In Science by Peter C. Doherty

And it gets worse, a lot worse, as the country written on the passport cover is poorer. Both the contributions to human knowledge and the resulting technologies are potentially available to all. But the practice of science, its funding and the regard in which it is held differs from one society to another. These differences can influence the careers of individuals and the fate of nations, and can also have profound effects on humanity as a whole, and the survival of our species.

But he is an expert. And he is able to write. Dec 24, Billpalmer rated it it was amazing. A Life in Science. The book is informative, proving mainly interesting reading, though I did find it dull in parts; it is sincere throughout and as Doherty becomes less involved in practical day to day research, he gives a lot of time to helping the image of science in Australia.

His chapter 7- Through different prisms: It is a book worthwhile reading. Jul 20, Jeremy rated it liked it. In prose that is at turns amusing and astute, Doherty reveals how his nonconformist upbringing, sense of being an outsider, and search for different perspectives have shaped his life and work.

Doherty offers a rare, insider's look at the realities of being a research scientist. He lucidly explains his own scientific work and how research projects are selected, funded, and organized; the major problems science is trying to solve; and the rewards and pitfalls of a career in scientific research. For Doherty, science still plays an important role in improving the world, and he argues that scientists need to do a better job of making their work more accessible to the public.

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Throughout the book, Doherty explores the stories of past Nobel winners and considers some of the crucial scientific debates of our time, including the safety of genetically modified foods and the tensions between science and religion. He concludes with some "tips" on how to win a Nobel Prize, including advice on being persistent, generous, and culturally aware, and he stresses the value of evidence.

The Beginner's Guide to Winning the Noble Prize is essential reading for anyone interested in a career in science.


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  5. In somewhat disjunctive fashion, an Australian Nobel laureate writes about his award, about his own life and research, about the history of the Nobel Prize and about the flaring conflicts