NBA History of Science Seminar: Annelie Drakman

Annelie Drakman (Stockholm University), “Joy in Science: The many uses of "fun" in self-descriptions by Nobel laureates in physics”

Annelie Drakman
Annelie Drakman, Stockholm University.

Science is repeatedly said to be an endeavour free of emotion; in fact, a crucial criteria for an activity to being called scientific is often said to be its disinterestedness. And yet, many autobiographies by successful scientists overflow with descriptions of joy. In this presentation, I explore how two Nobel laureates in physics, Donna Strickland (2018) and Richard Feynman (1965) use 'fun' as a central concept to describe science and the life of a scientist. Several connotations of fun–independence, incorruptibility, virtuosity, approachability, exceptionality, harmlessness, open mindedness and charisma will be explored, as will several relevant contexts, such as Cold War politics (Feynman) and being an "underdog" laureate (Strickland).

Annelie Drakman is a senior lecturer and researcher at Stockholm University.