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The Quantum Ten: A Story of Passion, Tragedy, Ambition and Science

Sheilla Jones.
Publisher Oxford  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.25 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780195369090
Pages/Publication Date 323/2008
Daedalus Item Code 30726
This item is not available.
Theoretical physics is in trouble—that's the impression you would get from reading a spate of recent books on the continued failure to resolve the 80-year-old problem of unifying the classical and quantum worlds. The seeds of this problem were sown at the 1927 Solvay conference in Brussels, where a handful of men fired by ambition, philosophical conflicts, and personal agendas were thrown together, and rushed to formalize quantum physics. Sheilla Jones gives us a close-up portrait of the key figures who wrestled with the mysteries of the new science of the quantum, offering an equation-free investigation into its turbulent development and its very fallible creators. We meet Albert Einstein, the lone wolf; Niels Bohr, the obsessive but gentlemanly father figure; Max Born, the anxious hypochondriac; Werner Heisenberg, the intensely ambitious one; Wolfgang Pauli, the sharp-tongued critic with a dark side; Paul Dirac, the silent Englishman; Erwin Schrödinger, the enthusiastic womanizer; Prince Louis de Broglie, the French aristocrat; and Paul Ehrenfest, who was witness to it all. Pascual Jordan, the ardent Aryan nationalist, was there also, although uninvited.

"The Quantum Ten illuminates a neglected chapter in the history of physics, and Jones tells the story with enthusiasm and flair. Above all, she gives the reader a real feeling for the personalities behind the science, a look at the minds of 10 passionate thinkers who changed our world forever."—Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"The eminently readable result brings to life characters like the caustic Wolfgang Pauli and the womanizing Schrödinger."—New Scientist

"Out of this human and historical stew came ideas that have thrown physics into a tizzy ever since, resulting in a field that even its most famous practitioners admit they don't understand, and in further explanations like string theory that nobody knows how to prove. Yet there is the tantalizing potential for eventual understanding that goes beyond physics to life, the universe and everything."—North Coast Journal

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