Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science

Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science

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By (author) James D Watson, Foreword by Hanna H Gray

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 347 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 200mm x 24mm | 322g
  • Publication date: 4 May 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0375727140
  • ISBN 13: 9780375727146
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 106,381

Product description

From a living legend--James D. Watson, who shared the Nobel Prize for having revealed the structure of DNA--a personal account of the making of a scientist. In Avoid Boring People, the man who discovered the secret of life shares the less revolutionary secrets he has found to getting along and getting ahead in a competitive world. Recounting the years of his own formation--from his father's birding lessons to the political cat's cradle of professorship at Harvard--Watson illuminates the progress of an exemplary scientific life, both his own pursuit of knowledge and how he learns to nurture fledgling scientists. Each phase of his experience yields a wealth of age-specific practical advice. For instance, when young, never be the brightest person in the room or bring more than one date on a ski trip; later in life, always accept with grace when your request for funding is denied, and--for goodness' sake--don't dye your hair. There are precepts that few others would find occasion to heed (expect to gain weight after you win your Nobel Prize, as everyone will invite you to dinner) and many more with broader application (do not succumb to the seductions of golf if you intend to stay young professionally). And whatever the season or the occasion: avoid boring people. A true believer in the intellectual promise of youth, Watson offers specific pointers to beginning scientists about choosing the projects that will shape their careers, the supreme importance of collegiality, and dealing with competitors within the same institution, even one who is a former mentor. Finally he addresses himself to the role and needs of science at large universities in the context of discussing the unceremonious departure of Harvard's president Larry Summers and the search for his successor. Scorning political correctness, this irreverent romp through Watson's life and learning is an indispensable guide to anyone plotting a career in science (or most anything else), a primer addressed both to the next generation and those who are entrusted with their minds. From the Hardcover edition.

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Author information

James D. Watson was director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York from 1968 to 1993 and is now its chancellor emeritus. He was the first director of the National Center for Human Genome Research of the National Institutes of Health from 1989 to 1992. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, he has received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society and is a Knight of the British Empire (KBE). He has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, and, with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

Review quote

"Aspiring Nobel laureates, pay attention. The road to the prize is laid out for you here. A book to be highlighted and handed down." --"Seed Magazine" "Insightful, useful and on target about science, competition, leadership, teaching and academic success. . . . Watson remains one of the most fascinating scientists of our time, as iconic in some respects as is the double helix." --"Nature" "Entertaining. . . . Watson passes on what he can to young scientists coming up and to the rest of us as well." --"Los Angeles Times" "Watson is both a scientific genius and a larger-than-life personality. . . . If you want to learn how science gets done in the real world . . . Watson makes for a wonderful guide." --"The Boston Globe" "Vintage Watson: brash, bumptious, brilliant--and never boring." --"Kirkus" "Watson proves as engaging as ever." --"Booklist" "Entertaining and historically revealing." --"Publishers Weekly"