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Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature
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Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  9 reviews
The eminent biochemist reflects on his life and work in Vienna and in America, shedding light on his DNA research and the work and opinions that led to his reputation as a maverick.
Hardcover, 252 pages
Published July 1st 1978 by Rockefeller University Press (first published June 1978)
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Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I'd tap that.

Did biochemist Erwin Chargaff, of the famous "Chargarff's rules" originally write his memoir in German? If this is the case, I will cut him some slack for writing in the kind of way I have very little patience for - overwrought, melodramatic, and earnest. Imagine reading Frasier Crane or Ignatius Reilly's memoirs and you have Heraclitean Fire.

Chargaff actually complains at one point "purple" language is frowned upon and how English is not a language for celebrating language. Well,
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
This poor, bitter man had such a bizarre view of science, esp the biological sciences. Theres almost zero mention of or appreciation for the absolutely massive revolution in medicine, which to most ppl is a cornerstone of biological science. Im sure its a product of the horrible ways he saw science used during WW2, and his points there are well-taken. But unfortunately other than that and a few other minor points, this book didnt have much perspective to give me about working in science today. ...more
Erik Rostad
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Written by Erwin Chargaff (1905 - 2002), a Columbia University biochemist, it is part autobiography, part critique of modern science (modern from 1978 when it was written). Chargaff is humurous, deep, and challenging. His critique of science is even more prescient today. His wariness of the direction science took began with the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan. I had never heard of Erwin Chargaff or this book, but it was excellent and highly recommended.
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Biologist. Brilliant man. Perhaps should have shared the Nobel with Crick and Watson. His findings paved the way for the double helix. Somewhat of a curmudgeon. At one point read in 15 different languages. The book is a memoir. He is pessimistic about the future of humankind and the world. Very interesting read with the most difficult vocabulary I have encountered.
Peter Reczek
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very good autobiography of one of the founders of modern molecular biology. In the old style, this is an introspective journey through a life looking both forward and backward. Liberally interspersed with references to art, music, and literature in the cultured European style, it is a welcome change from the current style of "reporting" a life. Lots to ponder!! FYI...out of print
Jacopo Arrigoni
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Most of the time, this book is just a pretentious critique of half a century of American academia; while it is far from a perfect entity, the contents of this autobiography are bitter and almost never justified. With that being said, the conclusion is touching, and reveals a love for biology and science in general that surpasses the failure to understand its evolution.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Erwin Chargaff, der Entdecker der Basenkomplementarität in der DNS, gilt als einer der Urväter der Gentechnik. In seiner Autobiographie aus dem Jahr 1979 rechnet er mit seiner Vergangenheit und der (damaligen) Zukunft der Gentechnik ab. Chargaff erging es somit ähnlich wie Albert Einstein - vergleichbar Goethes Zauberlehrling wurde er die Geister die er rief nicht mehr los. Was er in Bewegung gesetzt hatte entwickelte sich in eine Richtung die er nur mehr ablehnen konnte.

Als einer der
Jamie Bradway
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Skipped around for an 'only the good parts' version of the book. There's so much good stuff in here - but even more padding.
Julie Schum
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Rather a ponderous read in my opinion.
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Erwin Chargaff was an Austrian biochemist who was a professor of biochemistry at Columbia University medical school.
Chargaff proposed main rules in his lifetime related to DNA studies best known as Chargaff's Rules.

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