Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics
A fascinating look at the landmark 1932 gathering of the biggest names in physics
Known by physicists as the “miracle year,” 1932 saw the discovery of the neutron and the first artificially induced nuclear transmutation. However, while physicists celebrated these momentous discoveries—which presaged the era of big science and nuclear bombs—Europe was moving inexorably toward totalitarianism and war. In April of that year, about forty of the world’s leading physicists—including Werner Heisenberg, Lise Meitner, and Paul Dirac—came to Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen Institute for their annual informal meeting about the frontiers of physics.
Physicist Gino Segrč brings to life this historic gathering, which ended with a humorous skit based on Goethe’s Faust—a skit that eerily foreshadowed events that would soon unfold. Little did the scientists know the Faustian bargains they would face in the near future. Capturing the interplay between the great scientists as well as the discoveries they discussed and debated, Segrč evokes the moment when physics—and the world—was about to lose its innocence.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - satyridae - LibraryThing
The Faust component of the book was minuscule and the struggle for the soul of physics (whatever that might be) was to my eyes illusory. The book was, for the most part, a series of anecdotes- most of which have been more coherently told elsewhere. I was disappointed. Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - pineapplejuggler - LibraryThing
My first impression is that this is one of my favorite books ever. The physicist-author's writing is very lucid and easy to follow, despite the heavy subject matter of quantum mechanics and nuclear ... Read full review
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