Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and The Bomb

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Overview

Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb is an excellent work of scholarship and makes Heisenberg's work and life accessible to the general reader, while remaining important and interesting for the historian and scientist. Along with Wernher von Braun, Heisenberg's career under Hitler represents perhaps the best twentieth-century example of a faustian bargain with evil for the advancement of knowledge and science. Cassidy tells this story with nuance and passion.”—Mark Walker, author of Nazi Science: Myth, Truth, and the German Atomic Bomb

In 1992, David C. Cassidy’s groundbreaking biography of Werner Heisenberg, Uncertainty, was published to resounding acclaim from scholars and critics. Michael Frayn, in the Playbill of the Broadway production of Copenhagen, referred to it as one of his main sources and “the standard work in English.” Richard Rhodes (The Making of the Atom Bomb) called it “the definitive biography of a great and tragic physicist,” and the Los Angeles Times praised it as “an important book. Cassidy has sifted the record and brilliantly detailed Heisenberg’s actions.” No book that has appeared since has rivaled Uncertainty, now out of print, for its depth and rich detail of the life, times, and science of this brilliant and controversial figure of twentieth-century physics.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, long-suppressed information has emerged on Heisenberg’s role in the Nazi atomic bomb project. In Beyond Uncertainty, Cassidy interprets this and other previously unknown material within the context of his vast research and tackles the vexing questions of a scientist’s personal responsibility and guilt when serving an abhorrent military regime.

David C. Cassidy is the author of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century, Einstein and Our World, and Uncertainty. Professor of natural sciences at Hofstra University, he has served as associate editor of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. He is the only author to have received both the Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics and the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society for the same book (Uncertainty).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Drawing on captured Nazi documents found in Soviet archives and other recently released materials, Cassidy (J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century) offers a new view of the German wunderkind Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), who won the 1932 Nobel Prize in physics for revolutionizing the nascent field of quantum physics, first with his matrix interpretation of quantum mechanics, then with his famous uncertainty principle. What Cassidy seeks to understand is why Heisenberg chose-indeed fought-to remain in Germany under the Nazi regime and then took a leadership role in its efforts to split the atom. Heisenberg later rationalized these activities, but Cassidy shows that the account in the scientist's memoirs doesn't always agree with evidence in the recovered documents. Heisenberg's famous wartime meeting with his one-time mentor Niels Bohr in Copenhagen is parsed in detail as Cassidy considers their conflicting accounts. Exhaustively detailed yet eminently readable, this is an important book, though it moves too quickly through Heisenberg's 30 postwar years. Photos. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934137130
  • Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author


David C. Cassidy is the author of "J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century," "Einstein and Our World," and "Uncertainty." Professor of Natural Sciences at Hofstra University, he has served as Associate Editor of "The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein."
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