Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man.
It's probably safe to say that only one seismologist is a household name. Charles Richter developed the now-standard system of measuring the strength of an earthquake. However, the man himself has been an enigma. Hough draws on a wealth of documents left behind by Richter at the California Institute of Technology, where he spent his professional career, to chronicle his rise to fame and explain his place in the history of seismology. Richter was an intensely private person who originally was more interested in astronomy and physics than in seismology. But once he was recruited to join a seismological laboratory in Southern California, he became fascinated with earthquakes. Hough details how Richter and his colleague Beno Gutenberg developed methods for locating earthquakes and assessing their magnitude. The author describes Richter's tumultuous upbringing, his penchant for nudism, and his prolific writing of poems--many included in the book. Princeton, 2007, 335 p., b&w photos, hardcover, $27.95.