First Year

Seminar 015

The Triumph of Discovery

The Lives, Times and Works of Nobel Laureates

Fall 1998

Professor Carol Parish

Rosenberg 109, ext 3607,

Writing Colleague: Eva Bach

Course Mentor: Anna Manente

Class Meeting times: T R 9-10:45 Lansing 300

Office Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri 11-12 and by appointment

Texts: Marie Curie & the Science of Radioactivity, Naomi Pasachoff

The Triumph of Discovery, Joan Dash

Genius Talk, Denis Brian

Genius, James Gleick

Force of Nature, The Life of Linus Pauling, Thomas Hager

Required Supplementary Materials:

Bound composition notebook

Introduction: Welcome to the world of Genius! You are about to embark on a journey into the lives, times and works of some of the greatest minds in science. What does it take to win the Nobel Prize? This course will explore the genius, creativity, and discipline that motivated some Nobel Laureates and how this effected their work. We will see that in many ways their lives are similar to our own. We will explore what influenced these people to achieve such greatness and led to their recognition by the Nobel Foundation.

This course will be reading, writing, and discussion intensive and will focus on cultivating a culture of camaraderie and collegiality. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, will be to make a sincere commitment to this course. This means reading the texts daily, practicing writing in your journal daily, arriving at class ready to discuss the reading. Feel free to ask questions and hypothesize new ideas. You’ll learn faster and it will be more fun for everyone involved.

Upon successful completion of this course you will have acquired the ability to read, interpret and communicate in a professional, scholarly manner and to research a subject using traditional and electronic resources. These skills will prove invaluable throughout your academic careers and beyond.

Course Policies

• Attendance at lectures is mandatory. First year seminars are intended to cultivate an appetite for reading and to further develop writing skills, in an intellectual, community environment. Excused medical absences must be validated with a statement from the Health Center, or a private physician.

• Please come to class on time. We will begin promptly at 9:00. Please synchronize your personal time with the clock in the classroom.

• It is imperative for the success of this course that you complete the required reading assignments before the corresponding class. We will all benefit much more from the class meeting having read the assignment ahead of time.

• A significant portion of your grade will depend upon your ability to read the text, interpret and communicate what you have learned. We are fortunate to have the assistance of a Writing Colleague in this course. The Writing Colleague will be extremely helpful in your development as professional writers and scholars. You will conference weekly with the Colleague to discuss your work in the course. Colleague meetings are mandatory. In the event that you cannot keep your regularly scheduled meeting, you must contact the Colleague 48 hours in advance.

• Word processing skills are crucial in today's technological society. Please submit all assignments, drafts or final submissions, as typewritten, double-spaced pages.

• Recording class notes and reading notes in a daily journal will enhance your learning process. Please include clearly marked weekly summaries. Make sure to bring your journal to every class, we will use them to discuss the reading assignment. Journals will be collected and graded periodically.

• We are fortunate to have the assistance of a Course Mentor. The Mentor will be available in class and outside of class to discuss the readings, answer questions and generally provide additional support.


Class participation 25%

Assignments 50%

Daily journal 25%





Tentative Class Schedule for September


Class activity

Assignment due

9/10 R

Introduction to the course, view and discuss film on Alfred Nobel, Paper #1 is assigned


9/15 T

Library introduction, discuss pages 1-49 of Marie Curie,

Paper #2 is assigned

Paper #1

9/17 R

Learning to use computers effectively, discuss pages 50-103 of Marie Curie


9/22 T

Discuss pages 1-66 of Triumph of Discovery

Draft Paper #2

9/24 R

Discuss pages 66-135 of Triumph of Discovery


9/26 S

Lunch with a Laureate - visit to Prof. Roald Hoffman


9/29 T

Discuss pages 1-104 of Genius Talk

Paper #2

10/1 R

Discuss pages 105-208 of Genius Talk