1st Edition

The Whats of a Scientific Life

By John R. Helliwell Copyright 2020
    136 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    136 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    This book completes a scientific life trilogy of books following on from the Hows (i.e. skills) and the Whys is now the Whats of a scientific life. Starting with just what is science, then on to what is physics, what is chemistry and what is biology the book discusses career situations in terms of types of obstacles faced. There follow examples of what science has achieved as well as plans and opportunities. The contexts for science are dependencies of science on mathematics, how science cuts across disciplines, and the importance of engineering and computer software. What science is as a process is that it is distinctly successful in avoiding or dealing with failures. Most recently a radical change in what is science is the merger of the International Council of Scientific Unions and the International Social Sciences Council.

    Key Features:

    • Dissects what is science and its contexts
    • Provides wide ranging case studies of science and discovery based directly on the author’s many decades in science
    • The author has outstanding experience in mentoring and career development, and also in outreach activities for the public and students of all ages
    • The world of science today involves a merger of ‘the sciences’ and the ‘social sciences’




    About the Author

    Part I Introduction

    1 What Is the Scientific Life?

    2 What Is Physics?

    3 What Is Chemistry?

    4 What Is Biology?

    Part II Scientific Career Choices: What to Do When Faced With …

    5 Junctions

    6 Crossroads

    7 Roundabouts

    8 Traffic Lights

    9 Obstacles

    10 Mountains

    Part III Examples of What Science Delivers or Will Deliver in the Future

    11 With Physics We Can See Atoms

    12 Acceleration of Chemical Reactions by Catalysts: A Wonder of the Natural World

    13 Understanding Colour: Paintings, Camouflage, Clothes and Cosmetics

    14 The Universe Exists and the Big Bang ‘Start’ of the Universe: The ‘Red Shift’ and the Expansion of the Universe

    15 Is There Life Elsewhere in the Universe? The Role of the Square Kilometre Array Radio Astronomy Project

    16 Predicting Climate Change on Earth

    Part IV Science and Mathematics: Across the Disciplines and Side by Side With Engineering

    17 Science and Mathematics: Newtonian Dynamics and Molecular Dynamics

    18 Science across the Disciplines: Curiosity Respects No Science Subject Boundaries

    19 Science Side by Side with Engineering

    Part V Science Is a Process

    20 Successes Involve Striving to Avoid Failures in Science

    Part VI A Trend: The Coming Together of the Sciences and the Social Sciences

    21 The International Council for Science: A Very Important Event

    Appendices My Reviews of Books Regarding the Whats of a Scientific Life

    Appendix A1: The Social Function of Science, by J. D. Bernal

    Appendix A2: The Effective Scientist: A Handy Guide to a Successful Scientific Career, by Corey J. A. Bradshaw

    Appendix A3: Scientific Leadership, by J. W. (Hans) Niemantsverdriet and Jan-Karel Felderhof

    Appendix A4: Managing Science: Developing Your Research, Leadership and Management Skills, by K. Peach

    Appendix A5: Writing Chemistry Patents and Intellectual Property: a Practical Guide, by Francis J. Waller

    Appendix A6: The Scientific Method: Reflections from a Practitioner, by M. di Ventra


    John R. Helliwell is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Manchester. He was Director of Synchrotron Radiation Science at the Council for the Central Laboratories of the Research Councils (CCLRC). Professor Helliwell has served as President of the European Crystallographic Association (ECA). He was awarded a DSc degree in physics from the University of York in 1996 and a DPhil in molecular biophysics from the University of Oxford in 1978. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Society of Biology, and the American Crystallographic Association. He is an Emeritus Member of the Biochemical Society. In 1997, he was made an Honorary Member of the National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia. In 2000 he was awarded the Professor K Banerjee Centennial Silver Medal by the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Calcutta, India. In 2015 he was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona, Spain. He was made an Honorary Member of the British Biophysical Society in 2017. The same year, he became a Faculty 1000 Member, charged with highlighting significant science publications. He was elected an Honorary Life Member of the British Crystallographic Association in 2019. He was a Lonsdale Lecturer of the British Crystallographic Association in 2011, the Patterson Prize Awardee of the American Crystallographic Association in 2014, and the Max Perutz Prize Awardee of the European Crystallographic Association in 2015. Professor Helliwell has published more than 200 research publications and two research monographs. He has held leading roles within the International Union of Crystallography, most recently as Chairman of its Committee on Data and Chairman of its Book Series. He has chaired various science advisory committees at synchrotron X-ray and neutron facilities around the world including in France, Spain, Japan, the USA, Australia and Sweden.

    “A lot of thought about what science is, and experience about what the scientific life involves, has gone into this book by John Helliwell. In fact John has become a figure head for his work in physics and chemistry and also delving into biology. His book is within the Global Science Education Book Series and which, close to my heart, is the important science education role that the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and Museum in Widnes  has and where I am the Chair of Trustees of the Charitable Trust that manages it. I warmly welcome this new book, not least in which John highlights enzyme catalysis and the International Year of the Periodic Table 2019, it even includes a photograph of Mendeleev’s visit to Manchester.”

    - Dr Diana Leitch MBE, FRSC, Deputy University Librarian, University of Manchester,  and Chair of Trustees of the Catalyst SDC and Museum, Widnes, UK