Article ID: CBB001201343

Beyond Popper and Polanyi: Leonor Michaelis, a Critical and Passionate Pioneer of Research at the Interface of Medicine, Enzymology, and Physical Chemistry (2012)


The biochemist and biophysicist Leonor Michaelis (1875-1949) was a renowned pioneer who worked at the interface of physical chemistry and biochemistry. He is best known for his work on the physical chemistry of proteins and enzymes and for the mathematical derivation, together with Maud Menten, of the affinity constant of the enzyme substrate bond, now known as the Michaelis-Menten constant. His thorough experimentation and careful theorizing made him critical of his contemporaries in medical biochemistry, whose work did not withstand scrutiny. His strong influence resulted from combining new concepts and approaches with traditional ones, thus bridging conceptual gaps. Most importantly, his success was brought about because he combined a critical and sharp mind with competence, passion, and determination. A review of Michaelis's approach and achievements shows that critical theory testing, as suggested by Popper, cannot explain scientific advance if taken alone; the existence of a passionate commitment to scientific beliefs, as emphasized by Polanyi, is another necessary prerequisite for the development of science.

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Authors & Contributors
Manuel DeLanda
Rana, Adele La
Ziche, Paul
Wettersten, John R.
Stuart, James D.
Stock, John T.
Philosophy of Science
Journal of the History of Ideas
European Physical Journal H
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Perspectives on Science
Journal for General Philosophy of Science
University of Chicago Press
Oxford University Press
Bloomsbury Academic
Philosophy of science
Physical chemistry
Mathematics and its relationship to science
Philosophers of science, modern
Popper, Karl Raimund
Polanyi, Michael
Ostwald, Friedrich Wilhelm
Kuhn, Thomas S.
Wald, Franz
Spearman, Charles Edward
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
18th century
20th century, late
Pisa (Italy)
Prague (Czechia)
Soviet Union

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