The Leverhulme Trust (UK) required Charles Oxnard to present a series of public lectures during his tenure of a Leverhulme Professorship at University College, London. The lectures had to be understandable not only to undergraduate and graduate students and colleagues, but also to the interested lay public. Furthermore, they were expected to meet and venture beyond present-day thought in the subject. This near-impossible task is reproduced in this unique volume.Each chapter shows what is rarely, if ever, done in scientific papers: how the problems truly arose; how the methods came about; the curious collaborators involved; the twists and turns of thought involved in the stories; the solutions that have so far appeared; and the surprising new ideas that stem from the work. In particular, the part played by serendipity becomes ever more evident. Research is very often a kind of “Alice-in-Wonderland” task, and both students and the public alike are fascinated by the inside stories of how discoveries are really made. It is precisely this excitement and complexity that is presented in this book.

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