Think Less Learn More

by Dr Srini Pillay
B Format Paperback
One Friday night in 1983, a man and his girlfriend were driving down California Highway 128 from Berkeley to Mendocino where he was building a cabin in the woods. It was late at night, it was a long drive, and he was feeling a little tired and spacey. As his girlfriend dozed in the passenger seat, the man’s mind wandered back to his work, in his case research on DNA. As he put it, “My little silver Honda’s front tyres pulled us through the mountains. My hands felt the road and the turns. My mind drifted back into the laboratory. DNA chains coiled and floated. Lurid blue and pink images of electric molecules injected themselves somewhere between the mountain road and my eyes.” Like an enthusiastic puppy just unleashed, his thoughts darted to and fro, mulling, comparing and connecting fragments of information. Suddenly, something new fell into place for him. He pulled off to the side of the road—mile marker 46.58 to be exact, he found himself noticing—and began to connect the dots of his thoughts. Science would never be the same again. That man was Dr. Kary Banks Mullis—a biochemist who ten years later would win the Nobel Prize for chemistry for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction, also known as PCR. A way of making synthetic DNA, this has proven crucial in a wide range of disciplines, from obstetrics to forensics. It was on that restless, late-night journey that his mind collected ideas and put them together in new and strange ways. Later he would sort and hone what his wandering mind had pooled before him. The magic of that process—both the collecting and the sorting—is the stuff of this book.