James Lovelock | Independent Scientist, Inventor & Author

James Lovelock is an independent scientist, inventor as well as an author. He is the originator of the Gaia Theory, which is a revolutionary thesis that the Earth is a self-regulating super organism. He has been awarded various prizes in his respective fields and is the author of approximately 200 scientific papers, distributed almost equally among topics in Medicine, Biology, Instrument Science and Geophysiology. Today this theory forms the basis of almost all climate science. He is commonly known as the ‘Green Guru’and has questioned the entire scientific basis for man-made climate change alarm. Lovelock believes that we should stop trying to save the planet from global warming and instead retreat to climate controlled cities. 

I Am Driven By | Two things drive me, first curiosity and second someone asking me if I can help them to solve their need.

James-Lovelock-1My Definition Of Success | All that I have ever wanted to be is a good scientist and someone free to explore the human and the natural world.  I think I have succeeded because I have been free to do this all of my working life and it hasn’t yet ended.

I Am Driven By | Two things drive me, first curiosity and second someone asking me if I can help them to solve their need.

My Highlights | I am proud to have been able to work freely on any subject I wanted to and I have done so without support from any funding agency and without private means; indeed, for most of my life any spare cash has gone to support my parents and my wife’s parents as well as in raising my own family.  Working independently required an apprenticeship that lasted about 42 years. As a scientist I have published papers in peer-reviewed journals ranging from astronomy to zoology inclusively. Among the successes are: the Gaia hypothesis, the electron capture detector, to be the first to discover the presence in the atmosphere of important gases such as the CFCs, dimethyl sulphide, methyl chloride and many others.

The Difference Between Good And Great | Luck and what happens to be the public perception of greatness at any time.

A Key Talent | What success I have had I attribute to the massive accumulation of information before I reached puberty.  As a child I was intensely curious and spent a great deal of time in the Science Museum in London and in the library of the part of the city, Brixton, where I lived.  I would read books on any science such as Jean’s Astronomy and Cosmogony, or Wade’s Organic Chemistry and many others.  I understood little of what I read but the information has stayed with me, and is available for instant recall. It may not work for everyone but I would say learn as much as you can before you reach puberty. After that what you learn is not long remembered.

The Characteristics Of Success | What has kept me going is being able to answer questions that covered a huge and diverse range. This happened because to continue the work of science I was doing I needed customers who pay for my advice.  My customers have included the agencies NASA and NOAA in the USA and large firms there are also including especially, Hewlett Packard.  Individuals and organisations such as the American National Academy of Sciences also asked advice that I gave without charge.  More important than the funds these organisations provide were the amazing range of questions they wanted answered.  Such as “how do you find life on another planet”?  Or “how can you trace the movement of an air mass across the continental United States?”

James-Lovelock-3Principles I Live By | I don’t know what principles we live by, but you would find the life of me and my wife Sandy to be an unusually happy one in simple beautiful but unpretentious surroundings.  We live in a four room cottage 70 yards from the sea’s edge.

Critical Skills I Develop | I have no special skills.

How I Use My Mind | I know the answer to most questions I am asked almost instantly by intuition. It can take in some cases as long as eight years to explain the intuition logically. This was true for example with the electron capture detector. Eight years from its discovery to its explanation. It is a device best explained by quantum theory which may indicate why its explanation was slow.

 

Lessons I Have Learnt | The most important lesson for would-be scientists and inventors is:  do not treat science as if it were a competitive game that you entered for money and prizes.  Most important quality a scientist can have is a sense of wonder.

Dealing With Doubt | By following the thought in question 10 above, I have suffered little or no negative or self-doubt.

Performing At My Peak | I have never tried live at my peak. As I said in the answer to question 10, Science is not a competitive sport.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | Probably the most important thing here is walking in pleasant countryside as often as possible. I subscribe to Science and Nature and we enjoy life with our friends in the nearby village of Abbotsbury

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | My immediate goal is to live in a fit state to at least 100 years.  Slightly less than four years from now.

The Meaning Of Life | I’m curious about the meaning of life but have no idea what it is.

James-Lovelock-2The Best Advice I’ve Received | Lord Rothschild asked me in 1966 “do you pay income tax?”  I replied “of course I do doesn’t everyone who has an income?”   Lord Rothschild’s reply was “I’ve never paid income tax. It is quite simple I have no income”.

Advice On Building Wealth | what better than the advice in question 16.

On Inspiring Others | I have never employed anyone, although sometimes I work with friends.

I Am Inspired By | I have no role models.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | My archive is held by the London Science Museum.