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Faust in Copenhagen : a struggle for the soul of physics

Author: Gino Segrè
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2008.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Known to 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  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Gino Segrè
ISBN: 9780143113737 0143113739
OCLC Number: 183266857
Description: viii, 310 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Contents: Chapter 1: Munich then and now --
Chapter 2: The changing times --
The 1920s --
The birth of the quantum --
Why Copenhagen? --
The meetings begin --
The 1932 meeting --
Chapter 3: Goethe and Faust --
In the glow of Goethe --
The "Copenhagen Faust" --
Chapter 4: The front row: The old guard --
Niels Bohr --
Paul Ehrenfest --
Lise Meitner --
Chapter 5: The front row: The revolutionaries --
Old age is a cold fever --
Werner Heisenberg --
Wolfgang Pauli --
Paul Dirac --
Classical mechanics versus quantum mechanics --
Chapter 6: The front row: The young ones --
The curse of the Knabenphysik --
Max Delbruck --
Chapter 7: The coming storm --
The periodic table --
The new Kepler --
Gottingen in 1922 --
Triumph and crisis --
The new optimism --
Chapter 8: The revolution begins --
Helgoland --
Another sleepless night --
Waves or particles --
Heisenberg versus Schrodinger --
Uncertainty and complementarity --
Chapter 9: The King in decline --
The crucial Solvay conference --
Einstein --
The King --
Chapter 10: The great synthesis --
Dirac's equation --
How Max Delbruck joined Knabenphysik --
Physics begins to split --
Delbruck's choice --
Chapter 11: Conservation of energy --
The mysteries of the nucleus --
The barrier is too high --
Heaven and earth --
The revolutionary proposals --
The three young geniuses each write a book --
Chapter 12: The new generation comes of age --
The apprenticeship --
Copenhagen 1932 --
The "Blegdamsvej Faust" --
Delbruck's dilemma --
Chapter 13: The miracle year --
The discovery of the neutron --
Copenhagen and the neutron --
The miracle year --
Big science is born --
The hammer and the needle --
Chapter 14: Ehrenfest's end --
Epilogue: Or what happened afterward to the front row's other six --
How Meitner discovered nuclear fission --
How Bohr lived happily ever after --
How Dirac got married --
How Heisenberg inspired his friend to paint like a Titian --
How Pauli's anima made him leave the United States --
How Delbruck became a biologist.
Responsibility: Gino Segrè.

Abstract:

Known to 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 Segrè brings to life this historic gathering, which ended with a humorous skit based on Goethe's Faust--little knowing 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, Segrè evokes the moment when physics--and the world--was about to lose its innocence.--From publisher description.

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