Leo Szilárd was one of the first scientists to come up with the idea of a nuclear chain reaction, and he wrote the 1939 letter (signed by his friend Albert Einstein) that convinced President Roosevelt to launch the Manhattan Project. After the war, though, he turned his attention to molecular biology — and to spur interest in this new field, he wrote a book of science-fiction stories, The Voice of the Dolphins and Other Stories.


In the book's lead story, scientists from the U.S.A. and Russia come together, in spite of the Cold War, to study dolphins, and they discover that dolphins are actually super-smart and can master chemistry, biology and physics — suggesting new experiments the humans would never have thought of. This story, and Szilárd's interest in molecular biology generally, led to the establishment of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), whose library is named after Szilárd. The whole story of Szilárd's venture into science fiction, over at Biology in Science Fiction, is well worth reading. [Biology in Science Fiction]