March 26, 2006

Fiction Science

Just finished a fabulous novel (Intuition, by Allegra Goodman) about the scientific process and the world of postdocs working in labs. It's getting good reviews (mostly), including some raves from the scientific community.

Gina Kolata reviewed the book for the New York Times Science section on March 21, and said "At its base, 'Intuition' is a novel about scientific fraud. A postdoctoral student becomes suspicious that another postdoc's dazzling discovery might not be all it seems. His data seem too good to be true."

Her sources agree that the book is very representative of the postdoc world: " 'I think it's a unique book because it completely nails this world,' said Dr. Jerome Groopman, an oncologist and a professor of medicine at Harvard and the director of a laboratory there." and

Tom Schwarz, a researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston, read the book early on at the request of Ms. Goodman and "... said he began to read the book and could not believe it. Ms. Goodman had not interviewed him, and she had not been to his lab. But, Dr. Schwarz said, 'I saw myself and I saw things I knew, everything from the greasy falafels from the truck parked outside to the characters.' "

The characters and the story are compelling, especially as research is being fabricated (see: South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo Suk and Norwegian cancer researcher Jon Sudbo). And since I prefer my news fictionalized, this was a perfect read for me.

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