Author : Perry W. Wilson (auth.), J. R. Postgate (eds.)
Description:Understanding of biological nitrogen fixation has advanced with impressive rapidity during the last decade. As befits a developing area of Science, these advances have uncovered information and raised questions which will have, and indeed have had, repercussions in numerous other branches of science and its applications. This 'information explosion', to use one of to-day's cant idioms, was initiated by the discovery, by a group of scientists working in the Central Research laboratories of Dupont de Nemours, U. S. A. , of a reproducibly active, cell-free enzyme preparation from a nitrogen fixing bacterium. Full credit is due to them. But subsequent developments, albeit sometimes quite as impressive, have too often been marked by that familiar disorder of a developing field of research-the scramble to publish. It is a scramble which, at its best, may represent a laudable desire to inform colleagues of the latest developments; yet which too easily develops into an undignified rush for priority, wherewith to impress one's Board of Directors or Grant-giving Institution. This, in miniature, is the tragedy of scientific research to-day: desire for credit causes research to be published in little bulletins, notes and preliminary communications, so that only those intimately involved in the field really know what is happening (and even they may well not see the forest for the trees). Those outside the field, or working in peripheral areas, may glean something of what is going on from reviews and fragments presented at meetings, but the broad pattern of development is often elusive.