An elegant mathematical proof, an elegant theory, or an elegant experiment is one that is economical and imaginative, and sometimes breathtakingly simple once explained.
Newton, when asked how he had discovered the law of gravity, replied pithily: "By thinking on it continually." All of the great scientists in my book would, one senses, have said amen to that.
Sometimes doing something stupid or undignified is the only way to make the discovery or breakthrough you have been reaching towards. Sure, you might break a taboo or two, and you'll almost certainly break the rules, but since when did playing safe win anyone a Nobel Prize?
It might not be something to celebrate, but scientists who commit research fraud are following in a grand tradition.
Science has been at the heart of twentieth-century history -- from Einstein's new physics to the Manhattan Project, from eugenics to the Human Genome Project, or from the wonders of penicillin to the promises of biotechnology.
I was aware of many of the modern mind-boggling theories of physics, ranging from parallel universes to relativity and string theory. But I also became especially intrigued about discoveries that date back many centuries.
Virtually every biography of Charles Darwin refers to his health problems and acknowledges that the one physician who provided an effective treatment for him was Dr. James Manby Gully.