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One Hundred Reasons to Be a Scientist

Stories of great scientists and how they decided to go into science

One Hundred Reasons to Be a Scientist
One Hundred Reasons to Be a Scientist

07/08/2020 - Trieste

Why be a scientist? Nearly every scientist has a different answer and a different inspiration, drawn from varied careers, outlooks, and experiences. For its 40th anniversary in 2004, ICTP published the book One Hundred Reasons to be a Scientist, a collection of 100 essays from many eminent physicists and mathematicians with a connection to ICTP. The book is a source of many insights from the lives and careers of scientists, including Mildred Dresselhaus, Freeman Dyson, Vera Rubin, and Francis K.A. Allotey. The authors discuss what led them to study science, the difficulties they encountered and overcame, and their passions and hopes for the future.

We are revisiting twenty of these stories highlighting one of them every week, sharing inspirations from the essays and showcasing the words of these great scientists. During the uncertainty of the current global pandemic, the words will hopefully help researchers feel less alone in their scientific path.

We are presenting this week the story of Daniel Chee Tsui, a Chinese-born American physicist, who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Robert B. Laughlin and Horst L. Störmer "for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations."

After receiving his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago and then completing a year of postdoctoral research there, Tsui moved to Bell Laboratories to perform research in solid state physics. Here he shifted his research interests, working in what he later defined “wandering into a new frontier”. He serves now as the Arthur Legrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering, Emeritus, at Princeton University.

In his essay, Tsui describes the steps that led him to undertake the study of physics and the inspirations drawn from professors, colleagues and the vibrant academic atmosphere he met throughout his career. You can read it here.

If you want to learn more about Daniel Tsui and his research, here you can watch the 1999 MIT Symposium, where he gives a lecture together with his fellow Nobel Laureates Bob Laughlin and Horst Störmer.

If you are interested in learning about 99 more scientists and what inspired them, you can find the whole book in electronic format for free download on ICTP’s Marie Curie Library website, in English, Italian and Urdu.


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