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Famous chemists: Isaac Asimov

isaac asimovWho is he?

A Russian born American scientist and science-fiction writer, Isaac Asimov was a professor of biochemistry as well as being a very popular novelist.

Why is he famous?

Did you see the film ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith? Well, Isaac Asimov wrote the original short story. Over his life-time, Asimov wrote and edited over 500 books. His most well-know work is the ‘Foundation’ series, five books based in a future where humans live in space.

As well as the fiction he was most famous for, Asimov also wrote popular science books, where he tried to make scientific ideas more understandable to non-scientists. Some of his non-fiction titles are 'Guide to Science', 'Inside the Atom' and 'Chronology of Science and Discovery'. Given how much he wrote, you might imagine that he had no time for anything else, but Asimov was also a well-respected scientist.

Born in Russia in 1920, his family moved to the United States when he was three years old. He grew up in New York and started writing stories as a teenager. He studied at Columbia University and graduated when the Second World War broke out in 1939. During the war, he worked at a Naval Air Experimental Station, where he became a corporal. In the 1940s he returned to his old university to do a Ph.D in biochemistry. He then became an associate professor at Boston University, but stopped teaching in 1958 to write full-time.

Top quotes

"A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value."

"It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be."

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere."

"A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."