得过诺贝尔奖的花花公子自传

Dancing naked in the mind field, Kary Mullis, 1998, Vantange Books, 197 pages.
这本书是发明了核酸检测技术的美国科学家Kary B Mullis的自传。全书22章,与职业专机作家比起来可以说写的毫无线索,简直就是作者一些杂文汇编,没有时间顺序,一会儿讲PCR技术的发现,一会儿讲自己研究生物化学是为了跟女人搭讪,一会儿讲自己的一些灵异经历甚至被蜘蛛咬、遭遇外星人,一会儿又提到自己以身试药尝试各种致幻药品的故事(合成毒品对一个熟练的化学家来说简直太容易了)。
但是这书写的很直率,大胆,对一些广为接受的观念大为质疑和抨击,比如是否HIV病毒导致了艾滋病(还毫不留情地攻击了HIV病毒发现者之一的Robert Gallo),人类是否是全球气候变暖的罪魁祸首,物理学与其关注粒子不如多花时间考虑如何应对可能撞上地球的天体政府牵头的科研只是拿纳税人的钱养一群寄生虫,啥也搞不出来,还饶有趣味地叙述了他是如何戏弄GSK公司。可以说非常口无遮拦,重要的是还挺搞笑,不过从某种意义上说,进步的确需要这样的批判性思考。
总的来说这是一本智商很高的人写的书,从他在书中的行文就能看出来作者考虑问题的角度不同于凡人。
书中一些摘抄:
他在大学里搞科研时因为喜欢跟女人胡搞,被老板含蓄地提醒过
“Neilands said that it was probably okay that I admitted loving surfing and women, but he thought the committee might frown on the fact that I admitted using LSD. Surfing, women, and LSD might be too much, he told me. They might decide to wait until I settled down in twenty or thirty years. Joe had spent a sabbatical or two at the Karolinska in Sweden and he knew the scene. We both knew I wouldn’t shut up.”
“As long as I wrote a thesis and got a degree, Joe didn’t much care what else I did. He figured I would not be very successful in science because I was too interested in everything else, including women. He introduced me to visitors to the lab as his “wide-angled genius.” Joe hoped I would get a good education. If he said anything at all to me on the grand scale, it was that my education was being paid for by the people and I owed them my conscientious best. From my home base in Joe’s lab, I followed my own curiosity. It took me into anthropology, sociology, physics and math, and even music courses, where I could meet women. He warned me that my style of hanging out as long as I could as a graduate student would eventually result in some tightening of the departmental rules, and it did.”
他自己也坦诚“nothing is more fun or interesting to me than human bodies”。
这哥们也说,讲真话比编假话容易的多:
“I had discovered early in life that the truth is much easier to tell than anything else.”
这一段讲到了他意识到PCR的作用:
“The procedure would be valuable in diagnosing genetic diseases by looking into a person’s genes. It would find infectious diseases by detecting the genes of pathogens that were difficult or impossible to culture. PCR would solve murders from DNA samples in trace materials—semen, blood, hair. The field of molecular paleobiology would blossom because of PCR. Its practitioners would inquire into the specifics of evolution from the DNA in ancient specimens. The branchings and migrations of early man would be revealed from fossil DNA and its descendant DNA in modern humans. And when DNA was finally found on other planets, it would be PCR that would tell us whether we had been there before or whether life on other planets was unrelated to us and had its own separate roots.”
欧美很多人认为,人还是自己操心自己事比较好,没人会照顾我们,科学也是如此:
“No wise men sit up there, watching the world from the vantage point of their last twenty years of life, making sure that the wisdom they have accumulated is being used.”
痛斥金钱在当代科研发展中起到的坏作用:
“Probably the most important scientific development of the twentieth century is that economics replaced curiosity as the driving force behind research.”
1993年作者49岁(可以说年纪轻轻)就获得了诺贝尔奖,他在书后说:
“I gratefully acknowledge the help that receiving that prize has been in my life. There is money involved, but what is more lasting is that once you have been given that accolade, no door in the world will fail to open for you at least once. It is a free pass for the rest of your life.”
作者卒于2019年,享年75岁,正好是新冠疫情爆发、PCR成为全球微生物和病毒诊断金标准的前夕。
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