Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking

Oxford University Press
2
Free sample

Here is a lively history of modern physics, as seen through the lives of thirty men and women from the pantheon of physics. William H. Cropper vividly portrays the life and accomplishments of such giants as Galileo and Isaac Newton, Marie Curie and Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, right up to contemporary figures such as Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann, and Stephen Hawking. We meet scientists--all geniuses--who could be gregarious, aloof, unpretentious, friendly, dogged, imperious, generous to colleagues or contentious rivals. As Cropper captures their personalities, he also offers vivid portraits of their great moments of discovery, their bitter feuds, their relations with family and friends, their religious beliefs and education. In addition, Cropper has grouped these biographies by discipline--mechanics, thermodynamics, particle physics, and others--each section beginning with a historical overview. Thus in the section on quantum mechanics, readers can see how the work of Max Planck influenced Niels Bohr, and how Bohr in turn influenced Werner Heisenberg. Our understanding of the physical world has increased dramatically in the last four centuries. With Great Physicists, readers can retrace the footsteps of the men and women who led the way.
Read more
Collapse

About the author

William H. Cropper is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at St. Lawrence University. He lives in Saugerties, New York.
Read more
Collapse
4.0
2 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
Read more
Collapse
Published on
Sep 16, 2004
Read more
Collapse
Pages
514
Read more
Collapse
ISBN
9780199832088
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Language
English
Read more
Collapse
Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Science & Technology
Science / History
Science / Physics / General
Read more
Collapse
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Collapse
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Collapse
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
In 1900 many eminent scientists did not believe atoms existed, yet within just a few years the atomic century launched into history with an astonishing string of breakthroughs in physics that began with Albert Einstein and continues to this day. Before this explosive growth into the modern age took place, an all-but-forgotten genius strove for forty years to win acceptance for the atomic theory of matter and an altogether new way of doing physics. Ludwig Boltz-mann battled with philosophers, the scientific establishment, and his own potent demons. His victory led the way to the greatest scientific achievements of the twentieth century.

Now acclaimed science writer David Lindley portrays the dramatic story of Boltzmann and his embrace of the atom, while providing a window on the civilized world that gave birth to our scientific era. Boltzmann emerges as an endearingly quixotic character, passionately inspired by Beethoven, who muddled through the practical matters of life in a European gilded age.

Boltzmann's story reaches from fin de siècle Vienna, across Germany and Britain, to America. As the Habsburg Empire was crumbling, Germany's intellectual might was growing; Edinburgh in Scotland was one of the most intellectually fertile places on earth; and, in America, brilliant independent minds were beginning to draw on the best ideas of the bureaucratized old world.

Boltzmann's nemesis in the field of theoretical physics at home in Austria was Ernst Mach, noted today in the term Mach I, the speed of sound. Mach believed physics should address only that which could be directly observed. How could we know that frisky atoms jiggling about corresponded to heat if we couldn't see them? Why should we bother with theories that only told us what would probably happen, rather than making an absolute prediction? Mach and Boltzmann both believed in the power of science, but their approaches to physics could not have been more opposed. Boltzmann sought to explain the real world, and cast aside any philosophical criteria. Mach, along with many nineteenth-century scientists, wanted to construct an empirical edifice of absolute truths that obeyed strict philosophical rules. Boltzmann did not get on well with authority in any form, and he did his best work at arm's length from it. When at the end of his career he engaged with the philosophical authorities in the Viennese academy, the results were personally disastrous and tragic. Yet Boltzmann's enduring legacy lives on in the new physics and technology of our wired world.

Lindley's elegant telling of this tale combines the detailed breadth of the best history, the beauty of theoretical physics, and the psychological insight belonging to the finest of novels.
Acclaimed popular-science writer Brian Clegg and popular TV and radio astronomer Rhodri Evans give us a Top Ten list of physicists as the central theme to build an exploration of the most exciting breakthroughs in physics, looking not just at the science, but also the fascinating lives of the scientists themselves.

The Top Ten are:

1.Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
2.Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
3.Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
4.Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
5.James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)
6.Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
7.Marie Curie (1867-1934)
8.Richard Feynman (1918-1988)
9.Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
10.Paul Dirac (1902-1984)

Each of these figures has made a huge contribution to physics. Some are household names, others more of a mystery, but in each case there is an opportunity to combine a better understanding of the way that each of them has advanced our knowledge of the universe with an exploration of their often unusual, always interesting lives.

Whether we are with Curie, patiently sorting through tons of pitchblende to isolate radium or feeling Bohr's frustration as once again Einstein attempts to undermine quantum theory, the combination of science and biography humanizes these great figures of history and makes the Physics itself more accessible.

In exploring the way the list has been built the authors also put physics in its place amongst the sciences and show how it combines an exploration of the deepest and most profound questions about life and the universe with practical applications that have transformed our lives. The book is structured chronologically, allowing readers to follow the development of scientific knowledge over more than 400 years, showing clearly how this key group of individuals has fundamentally altered our understanding of the world around us.

J.D. Bernal, widely known as Sage since his undergraduate days at Cambridge, was a visionary scientist who was the first to see that the new subject of X-ray crystallography could be applied to the study of life. His pioneering work at Cambridge in the 1930s laid the foundation of molecular biology. He was one of the most influential and brilliant scientists of his time, inspiring many subsequent Nobel laureates. Bernal's restless energy and legendary intellect took him far beyond science. An astonishing polymath and a fervent Marxist, he was one of the central figures in a cosmopolitan intelligentsia in an age of extremes. The story of Bernal's life reflects the extraordinary political and intellectual climate in which he lived. He was witness to (and often involved in) some of the great events of the 20th century: the Easter Rebellion, schooldays in the Great War, the anti-fascist movement, the Second World War, pacifist causes and nuclear disarmament during the Cold War. He was a pioneer of Operational Research during WW2 and made the first objective analyses of the effects of bombing on cities. As this biography shows, he played a crucial role in planning the D-Day landings, arriving secretly on the Normandy beaches himself a day later. After the war, he became an international ambassador for Marxism, science, and peace, and was one of the few men familiar with Downing Street, the White House and the Kremlin. Brown's biography sets out a life richly and fully lived. Nearly every important British scientist of the mid-third of the 20th century appears in its pages, along with artists (Picasso, Hepworth), writers (Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Pablo Neruda) and statesmen (Churchill, Khrushchev, Mao, and Nehru). This compelling account draws on unprecedented access to Bernal's papers and war reports to piece together a dazzling image of Bernal: his Irish Catholic childhood, his Cambridge years, his research, his dedication to science, his intellectual brilliance, his blind, unswerving commitment to Marxism, his unorthodox Bohemian love life. But above all, the Bernal who emerges from this often critical account is a man not only of remarkable mental powers but of great warmth, kindness, and humanity.
"This book is Gamow at his best, which means the very best in science for the layman." — Library Journal
Widely recognized as one of the 20th century's foremost physicists, George Gamow was also an unusually capable popularizer of science. His talents are vividly revealed in this exciting and penetrating explanation of how the central laws of physical science evolved — from Pythagoras' discovery of frequency ratios in the 6th century B.C. to today's research on elementary particles.
Unlike many books on physics which focus entirely on fact and theory with little or no historic detail, the present work incorporates fascinating personal and biographical data about the great physicists of past and present. Thus Dr. Gamow discusses on an equal basis the trail of Galileo and the basic laws of mechanics which he discovered, or gives his personal recollections about Niels Bohr along with detailed discussion of Bohr's atomic model. You'll also find revealing glimpses of Newton, Huygens, Heisenberg, Pauli, Einstein, and many other immortals of science.
Each chapter is centered around a single great figure, or at most two, with other physicists of the era and their contributions forming a background. Major topics include the dawn of physics, the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, Newtonian physics, heat as energy, electricity, the relativistic revolution, quantum theory, and the atomic nucleus and elementary particles.
As Dr. Gamow points out in the Preface, the aim of this book is to give the reader the feeling of what physics is, and what kind of people physicists are. This delightfully informal approach, combined with the book's clear, easy-to-follow explanations, will especially appeal to young readers but will stimulate and entertain science enthusiasts of all ages. 1961 edition.
"The whole thing is a tour de force covering all the important landmarks." — Guardian

New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018

A New York Times Notable Book 

The #1 New York Times bestseller.

A brilliant and brave investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs--and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences

When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third. Thus began a singular adventure into various altered states of consciousness, along with a dive deep into both the latest brain science and the thriving underground community of psychedelic therapists. Pollan sifts the historical record to separate the truth about these mysterious drugs from the myths that have surrounded them since the 1960s, when a handful of psychedelic evangelists inadvertently catalyzed a powerful backlash against what was then a promising field of research.

A unique and elegant blend of science, memoir, travel writing, history, and medicine, How to Change Your Mind is a triumph of participatory journalism. By turns dazzling and edifying, it is the gripping account of a journey to an exciting and unexpected new frontier in our understanding of the mind, the self, and our place in the world. The true subject of Pollan's "mental travelogue" is not just psychedelic drugs but also the eternal puzzle of human consciousness and how, in a world that offers us both suffering and joy, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.
©2019 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.