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Faust in Copenhagen : a struggle for the soul of physics

Author: Gino Segrè
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2007.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
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, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Gino Segrè
ISBN: 9780670038589 067003858X
OCLC Number: 76416691
Description: x, 310 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: 1. Munich now and then --
2. The changing times : The 1920s ; The birth of the quantum ; Why Copenhagen? ; The meetings begin ; The 1932 meeting --
3. Goethe and Faust : In the glow of Goethe ; The "Copenhagen Faust" --
4. The front row: the old guard : Niels Bohr ; Paul Ehrenfest ; Lise Meitner --
5. The front row: the revolutionaries : Old age is a cold fever ; Werner Heisenberg ; Wolfgang Pauli ; Paul Dirac ; Classical mechanics versus quantum mechanics --
6. The front row: the young ones : The curse of the Knabenphysik ; Max Delbrück --
7. The coming storm : The periodic table ; The new Kepler ; Göttingen in 1922 ; Triumph and crisis ; The new optimism --
8. The revolution begins : Helgoland ; Another sleepless night ; Waves or particles ; Heinsenberg versus Schrödinger ; Uncertainty and complementarity --
9. The king in decline : The crucial Solvay Conference ; Einstein --
the king --
10. The great synthesis : Dirac's equation ; How Max Delbrück joined Knabenphysik ; Physics begins to split ; Delbrück's choices --
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 --
12. The new generation comes of age : The apprenticeship ; Copenhagen 1932 ; The "Blegdamsvej Faust" --
Delbrück's dilemma --
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 --
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 Titian ; How Pauli's anama made him leave the United States ; How Delbrück became a biologist.
Responsibility: Gino Segrè.
More information:

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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