An unprecedented explosion of creativity, insight, and breakthrough occurred in every field of science in the last century. These discoveries profoundly changed the way we understand the world and our place in it. Now physicist and novelist Lightman tells the stories of two dozen of the most seminal discoveries. He paints the intellectual and emotional landscape of each discovery, portrays the personalities and human drama of the scientists involved, and explains the significance and impact of the work. He explores such questions as whether there were common patterns of research, whether the discoveries were accidental or intentional, and whether the scientists were aware of or oblivious to the significance of what they had found. Finally, Lightman gives a guided tour through each of the original papers, which are included in the book.