At Home in the Universe

Front Cover
American Institute of Physics, 1996 - Science - 371 pages
Colleague and confidant of Einstein and Bohr, pioneer of nuclear fission theory, and staunch champion of the theory of black holes - John Archibald Wheeler is one of the most original and profound thinkers of modern science. In 1939 he published, with Niels Bohr, the first paper to describe nuclear fission successfully in terms of quantum physics, a ground-breaking study that led to his involvement in the Los Alamos atom bomb project and his subsequent work on the hydrogen bomb. Wheeler has made significant contributions to atomic and nuclear physics, elementary-particle physics, relativity theory, cosmology, and astrophysics. Yet, in the final analysis, it is his simple delight and wonder in "the machinery of existence" that illuminates this collection. At Home in the Universe presents a feast of engaging essays formed of reminiscence, science, and conjecture. Wheeler provides intimate glimpses of Einstein, Bohr, and other giants in the field who were his friends and collaborators. He writes of debates and discussions with Bohr that formed the cornerstone of nuclear fission theory, long talks with Einstein in his upstairs study at Princeton, and the eloquence and nobility of Hermann Weyl. He sees in these and other great physicists - Marie Curie, Hideki Yukawa, and Hendrik Anthony Kramers - exemplars of the scientific spirit. Wheeler ranges over what he calls the "intensely human activity" of science, the nature of scientific endeavor, the role of curiosity and creativity, characteristics of good scientists, and scientific skepticism and optimism. He delves into new directions of physics, notably his intriguing proposition that reality can be thought of as binary units - or "bits"--Similar to those from information theory. Uniting the collection is Wheeler's lifelong passion for the truth and his unconcealed joy in its pursuit. An unforgettable journey through the mind and memory of one of the century's great physicists, At Home in the Universe will delight, educate, and inspire.

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Contents

Aids in the Search for Truth
3
Genesis and Observership
23
The Known and the Unknown
47
Copyright

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