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Levitating Trains and Kamikaze Genes
"Long overdue. Answers a lot of questions you felt too foolish to ask. Knowing the answers is important to your future." --The New York Times Book Review
"Humanity is playing poker with the universe and doesn't know the rules of the game. Richard Brennan's book tells you the rules clearly and simply. Please read it, because humanity is losing the game." --Isaac Asimov
"Levitating Trains and Kamikaze Genes is about stuff that's true, that's here, that's shaping our lives and futures." --Chicago Tribune
"A splendid tutorial on technology, strongly recommended to nontechnical people seeking an easy way to learn about the most significant developments in science and technology." --Futurist
"A survivor's guide to the high tech '90s . . . clear of head yet light of heart, chatty and comprehensive." --Philadelphia Inquirer
They were men of extraordinary vision, curiosity, passion, and determination. Very simply, they changed the way we saw the world. "They are, in short," says author Richard P. Brennan, "those individuals who led us, sometimes reluctantly, to the continuity of ideas, observations, speculations, and syntheses that constitute the body of knowledge we now call modern physics."
But who were these men? What drove them? What were they like as individuals? Where did their brilliant insights come from? And how did those insights transform our understanding of the world? To answer these questions, Brennan, the acclaimed author of Levitating Trains and Kamikaze Genes, leads us on an exhilarating tour of the lives and ideas of the seven physicists whose work most profoundly shaped physics in the twentieth century. The result is a compelling portrait of "the unique human qualities of each of these scientists, what made them so outstanding and makes each of their stories so fascinating."
Brennan begins with an illuminating refresher on Isaac Newton, whose legendary achievements in the seventeenth century established the clockwork view of the physical world that his twentieth-century counterparts would so profoundly alter. Only with an appreciation of the work of Newton, who famously demurred that he stood on the shoulders of giants, can we grasp the revolutionary nature of the work of the giants who followed him:
* Albert Einstein, whose special and general theories of relativity shook the foundations of all of science;
* Max Planck, the soft-spoken professor who became "The Father of Quantum Physics";
* Ernest Rutherford, the walrus-mustachioed, booming-voiced experimentalist whose pioneering work ushered in the age of nuclear physics;
* Niels Bohr, who created the first accurate model of the atom and joined the Manhattan Project after fleeing the Nazis;
* Werner Heisenberg, the brilliant, controversial figure who introduced the landmark Uncertainty Principle;
* Richard Feynman, the witty, unpretentious "half-genius, half-buffoon" whose space-time diagrams revolutionized quantum electrodynamics;
* Murray Gell-Mann, the theoretical physicist whose search for the fundamental building blocks of all matter led to his signature "eightfold way" and the quark hypothesis.
With carefully distilled discussions of each scientist's discoveries, Heisenberg Probably Slept Here is as informative as it is entertaining. From the tiny Zurich patent office where Einstein wrote the Theory of Relativity, to the smoky Greenwich Village coffeehouses where Richard Feynman held forth while keeping time on the bongos, Richard Brennan's multifaceted book brings the world of modern physics--and its pioneer practitioners--vividly to life.
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck.
Niels Henrik David Bohr.
Werner Karl Heisenberg.
Richard Phillips Feynman.
Epilogue: The Why of Physics.
Chronology of Physics.