The Genius of Science: A Portrait Gallery

Pais, Abraham

Abraham Pais is the author of the definitive biographies of Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr. Indeed, his biography of Einstein was the winner of the 1983 American Book Award and was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the Best Books of the Year. As a distinguished theoretical physicist who was a friend and colleague of Einstein and Bohr, Pais is able to blend a sophisticated understanding of physics with a first-hand knowledge of the private individual, offering us insights into both. It is this unique double perspective that makes his work so valuable. Now, in The Genius of Science, Pais offers us insightful portraits of twelve of our century's most distinguished physicists, all of whom he has known personally. We meet, among others, the famously taciturn Paul Dirac; Max Born, who coined the term 'quantum mechanics'; Wolfgang Pauli, famed for his exclusion principle and known as the conscience of twentieth-century physics; Mitchell Feigenbaum, inventor of chaos theory; and John von Neumann, one of the most influential mathematicians of the century. Other scientists profiled include Res Jost, Isidor Rabi, Viktor Weisskopf, and Eugene Wigner. In addition, because their work is so relevant to the others discussed, Pais has included chapters on Einstein and Bohr, in each case giving the essence of the man's character and scientific achievement. Throughout the volume, Pais illuminates the personalities and achievements of these stellar scientists. The result is virtually a who's who of 20th-century physics--a superb collection of portraits that sheds light on the physicists, their work, and their lasting influence on science.

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