Ernst Peter Fischer
Born 1947 in Wuppertal (Germany), married, two daughters; undergraduate student in mathematics and physics at the University of Cologne, diploma in 1972; graduate student in biology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (USA), PhD in 1977 under the supervision of Max Delbrück; post-doc at the universities of Freiburg and Constance in biochemistry and biophysics, switch to the history of science upon a request by Delbrück who was contemplating to write his autobiography when he became termi-nally ill; habilitation in the history of science in 1987; professor of the history of science at the university of Constance since 1994; also visiting professor at the university of Basel (Switzerland) lecturing on the history of genetics.
Author of several books (most of them translated into several languages) (small selec-tion): Thinking about Science (1988); The Beauty and the Beast (1997), Hallo Dolly (1998), Impact of Modern Genetics on Life Insurance (1999); An den Grenzen des Den-kens – a biography of Wolfgang Pauli (2000), Images & Imagination (2001), Die andere Bildung (2001), Das genetische Abenteuer – essays on genetics (2001), Das Genom – an introduction to modern genome research (2002); Am Anfang war die Doppelhelix - a biography of James D. Watson (2003), Die Bildung des Menschen (2005), Einstein für die Westentasche (2005)
Awards: Heinrich-Bechold-Medaille (1980), Preis der wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft Freiburg (1981); Lorenz-Oken-Medaille (2002), Treviranus-Medaille (2003), Eduard-Rhein-Kulturpreis (2003), Preis der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft für Publizistik (2004), Satorius-Preis der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen (2004)
Usually we think that science deals with solutions. Science knows the truth and the truth ist full of beauty which in turn is good. But while we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ein-stein´s miracle year we should not forget his famous insight, „Das Schönste, was wir erleben können, ist das Geheimnis-volle. Es ist das Grundgefühl, das an der Wiege von wahrer Kunst und Wissenschaft steht.“ “The most beautiful that we can experience is the mysterious. It is the basic feeling that forms the source of all true art and science.” And don´t forget: Einstein did not explain light when he introduced its duality (meaning that light cannot be understood solely as a wave but also has to be considered as a particle). On the contrary, Ein-stein demonstrated that ligth cannot be explained. It remains mysterious even today and I think that this is part of its beauty.
There are many more items in science that we can call mysteri-ous. Life itself is a mystery and especially if we focus on its development. (We call it even today a miracle if a child is born). Since its mysteriousness makes life so beautiful we learn that serious efforts to explain it are in need of more than the naming of causal factors called genes. When life appears it is beautiful and this fact will never be explained by analyzing genetic mutants. You have to think of life as a piece of art pro-duced by a creative genome. Life is the art of genes.
Not only light and life are mysterious (and thus beautiful), but science itself belongs here. Science is beautiful since it works so well. But why is this the case? It remains as mysterious as ever and there is no simple logic to explain its progress. But there are other aspects and their beauty will be introduced and discussed.
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