A collection of about 100 essays by some of the most eminent physicists and mathematicians with some connection to ICTP. Editor: Katepalli R. Sreenivasan (ICTP)
One Hundred Reasons to be a Scientist (2nd ed.)
A paradox of our times is that, while our societies have come to depend on technological advances as never before, the interest in basic sciences is diminishing at all levels. Particularly distressing is the lukewarm interest shown towards sciences by the brightest students at the high school level. This state of affairs holds true, to the lowest order, in developed as well as developing nations, and deserves our collective attention. The International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) at Trieste, now named after its founding director, Abdus Salam, has been at the forefront of disseminating scientific knowledge to all segments of scientists. Taking as the occasion the 40th anniversary of our Centre, we thought it to be valuable to produce this book containing a number of brief and personal accounts by some of the most eminent scientists of our time, of what it was about science that captured their imagination as youngsters and kept it alive, and what main piece of knowledge they have added to the extraordinary lore of science. What message do they have for the budding scientists? In choosing the writers, I have kept in mind high standards of scientific accomplishment and their connection to the Centre in some fashion. Slightly fewer than a hundred authors graciously honoured the invitation to contribute, and I am pleased to place before you the result of the effort. The emphasis is different in each article but the authors have all made efforts to be accessible without demanding any special knowledge or expertise on the part of the reader. Many authors speak from their heart and distil their experience directly. I have no hesitation in saying that these pieces reflect the seriousness with which the contributors took our missive and the affection with which they hold our Centre and its mission. I cannot imagine that they would be sufficiently motivated otherwise to take the time and make the effort needed for the task. I am grateful. I hope that the readers will find these essays at least as inspirational as I have; I would have been pleased if I had the opportunity of exposing myself to similar articles as a young student. It is my belief that high school students and young college students, for whom the collection is primarily meant, will benefit as intended from spending some time with the book. Even the most seasoned researcher will find it interesting. October 2004, K.R. Sreenivasan, ICTP Director.