Home » Books in General » A Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist’s Literary Ambitions

A Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist’s Literary Ambitions

28 October 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

Soon after Joachim Frank won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in early October, he called a literary magazine to ask, “What’s going on?” The Columbia University professor, who is also a novelist and short-story writer, was wondering whether his win had changed the status of one of his fiction submissions.

The magazine had been promising to publish one of his short stories for three years, he says. Did he mention that he won the Nobel? He laughs sheepishly and says, “Well, I told them about it to speed them along.” The story was published on Friday.

Dr. Frank, 77, was honored along with Jacques Dubochet and Richard Henderson for his role in discovering cryo-electron microscopy, or cryo-EM, a technique used to visualize features of molecules in high, atomic-level 3-D definition. It allows scientists to understand molecules they couldn’t see before and then develop new drugs based on the knowledge of their structures. Knowing the shape of viruses, for example, can speed the creation of vaccines. “When we get to the atomic level, we can design drugs for anything,” Dr. Frank says.

While he sees his Nobel as a crowning achievement in his day job, he also hopes it will help bring more attention to his other career, as a fiction writer. Dr. Frank is the author of three unpublished novels and dozens of short stories. He has been writing almost as long as he has been teaching and researching chemistry.

“I think I have a heavily compartmentalized brain, which means that certain routines are simply running without me realizing it,” he says of his dual career. He thinks of each job on a project-by-project basis. “I take a certain time and switch compartments when I have a finished product,” he says.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

Books in General