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Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics.

FAUST IN COPENHAGEN: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics GINO SEGRE.

April 1932 marked both a peak in physics and the end of a carefree era, Segre writes. The meeting at the Copenhagen Institute of influential scientists was much like earlier annual assemblies pulled together by Niels Bohr. But this would be the last meeting before Adolf Hitler's ascent to power in Germany. Discoveries made that year provided plenty of material for discussion. Both the neutron and antimatter were identified, and scientists were able to induce the first nuclear disintegration. Segre, a professor of physics and astronomy, focuses on the human element at this landmark meeting. The attendees included Bohr, Paul Dirac, Werner Heisenberg, Lise Meitner, Max Delbruck, and Paul Ehrenfest. Wolfgang Pauli, another Bohr-meeting regular who happened to miss the 1932 get-together, is profiled as well. Segre discusses each character and recounts his or her insights and achievements in physics. Finally, he reveals the toll that World War II took on each scientist, including several who endured Nazi persecution. Viking, 2007, 310 p., b&w plates, hardcover, $25.95.
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Title Annotation:Books: A selection of new and notable books of scientific interest
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 30, 2007
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