An unprecedented explosion of creativity, insight, and breakthrough occurred in every field of science in the last century. From the theory of relativity to the first quantum model of the atom to the mapping of the structure of DNA, these discoveries profoundly changed the way we understand the world and our place in it. Now the physicist and novelist Alan Lightman tells the stories of two dozen of the most seminal discoveries. In lucid and literary prose, Lightman paints the intellectual and emotional landscape of each discovery, portrays the personalities and human drama of the scientists involved, and explains the significance and impact of the work. He explores such questions as whether there were common patterns of research, whether the discoveries were accidental or intentional, and whether the scientists were aware of or oblivious to the significance of what they had found. Finally, Lightman gives an unprecedented and exhilarating guided tour through each of the original papers, which are included in the book. Here are Einstein and Bohr, McClintock and Pauling, Planck and Heisenberg, and many others in their own words, grappling with the nature of the world. Original in its scope and depth, The Discoveries offers an extraordinary exploration into the nature of scientific discoveries and the minds of the men and women who made them. From the Hardcover edition.