A Remembrance of How Landsteiner Wrote His Scientific Journal Articles
(On Agglutination Phenomena of Normal Human Blood)
Wiener klinische Wochenschrfit. 1901. Vol 14:1132-1134
An excerpt from the book, Scientists Greater Than Einstein: The Biggest Lifesavers of the Twentieth Century, explains how Landsteiner wrote his articles:
Amongst Dr. Landsteiner’s laboratory assistants, when speaking to each other, he was affectionately known as the ‘Chief’.” One of those students, John Jacobs, particularly remembered the process of writing up their scientific discoveries.
“Papers were generally written at night on the dining-room table in Dr. Landsteiner’s large, very simply furnished apartment. It would begin by presenting a first draft, which, in the course of the evening, would be so criss-crossed with corrections and suggestions that it would have to be entirely rewritten. After three or four such sessions, made more pleasant by snacks prepared by Mrs. Landsteiner and including foreign cheeses and a little wine when work was over, the shape of a paper gradually appeared.... In writing papers Dr. Landsteiner was never ready to put pen to paper until he had definitely established a new fact. The paper was then built about this fact and its relationships discussed. … the discussions seemed to me to be unique. This was brought about by the fact that he limited himself severely to pointing out the highly probable implications and relationships of the facts observed, almost completely omitting opinion and theory…. During these long sessions Mrs. Jacobs and Mrs. Landsteiner would often sneak off to a moving picture theatre (of which Dr. Landsteiner disapproved)….Summaries were likewise worded with extreme caution and conservation. A large element of his genius consisted in the humility with which he would forgo the opportunity to draw broad theoretical conclusions in the interest of maintaining a high degree of accuracy and objective reality.”