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Suspended In Language : Niels Bohr's Life, Discoveries, And The Century He Shaped Paperback – April 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: G.T. Labs (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966010655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966010657
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,254,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When more daring nonfiction graphic novels are made, Ottaviani and G. T. Labs will make them. If this biography of the Danish physicist, whom colleagues referred to as "the pope," isn't as adventurously designed as Fallout (2001), Ottaviani and company's book on J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and the Manhattan Project, it is just as--maybe more--ambitious. Ottaviani, who writes the text and recruits artist-collaborators, aims to inculcate the basics of quantum physics as he tells Bohr's life story. Leland Purvis, artist for the main text, responds to Ottaviani's intentions by switching, as needed, between realism and fantasy (e.g., huge Bohr and huge Einstein astride different planets while arguing quantum theory). The partnership operates near perfectly, and only the unexplained Greek letters in equations (p we know, but D and l?) give nonmathematicians, at least, pause--but don't impede understanding. In the endnotes Ottaviani and several different artists limn instructive anecdotes about early physics, relay Bohr apocrypha, and create a series of comic strips about taciturn French physicist Paul Dirac--all pretty priceless. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Jim Ottaviani has written professionally for comics for over 10 years. Starting as a reviewer and interviewer for trade magazines, he moved to the other side of the creative fence in 1997 with the publication of Two-Fisted Science. That first trade paperback, focused on physicists, won a Xeric Grant and was an Eisner nominee. His second book, Dignifying Science (stories about women scientists), earned him another Eisner nomination and was one ALA's Best Books for Young Adults in 2001.

Fallout: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and the Political Science of the Atomic Bomb appeared next. In 2003 it was a one of Entertainment Weekly’s "Must Read" graphic novel, a Booklist’s Top 10, and an Eisner and Ignatz Award nominee.

Jim’s first career was as nuclear engineer—that’s where all this science comes from! He currently works as a librarian at the University of Michigan—that’s where all the esoteric resources come from. In addition to answering reference questions, looking things up, and writing comics, Jim also talks about them at venues ranging from conferences in California to libraries in Michigan to the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.


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Customer Reviews

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It's a great read and an even better learning experience.
Alex Morris
Jim Ottaviani, Leland Purvis, et al. have saved us with their intelligent, witty, and spacey cartoon retelling of Niles Bohr's life - Suspended In Language.
Bruce Crocker
This is really a good example of tough physics made accessible!
Frans Kok

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Crocker on November 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Science teachers have a large number of stories - some true, some apocryphal, and some somewhere in between - to regale their students with. We have Einstein's demands of the deity concerning dice, Rutherford's booming voice that trashed lab apparatus, Oppenheimer's Indian verse quoting at Trinity, and Teller's strangelovian life among others, but no good stories from the life of Niels Bohr. Jim Ottaviani, Leland Purvis, et al. have saved us with their intelligent, witty, and spacey cartoon retelling of Niles Bohr's life - Suspended In Language.

If you choose to dip into this very cool science biography, prepare to learn some physics along with the story of Bohr's life. The authors have supplied a generous number of footnotes and endnotes [done as cartoons] to explain the harder points. The book is indexed and referenced to the extreme. This is not some casual cartoon compilation, but a serious piece of graphic scholarship.

I highly recommend Suspended In Language to anyone interested in physics, scientists, or the history of the 20th Century. I also recommend the other books about scientists from G.T. Labs, including Safecracker [Richard Feynman] and Fallout [Oppenheimer, Szilard, and the Bomb].
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alex Morris on April 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ottaviani's Suspended in Language operates on a number of different levels and is appealing with just the right mixture of intellect and humor. While managing to create a biographical text on the life of Niels Bohr the story also delves into the fundamental principles of quantum mechanics. Ottaviani created a piece that could be solely read as a primer on quantum mechanics while managing to focus on Bohr's life. The facts are elucidated in illustrations that are intentionally reminiscent of a comic-strip. Just when you begin to feel like you're cramming a bit too much information into your brain all at once the book will take a several page detour into the every day dealings of Bohr's life, and having given you the chance to collect your wits, rev back up to an intellectual furor. What truly makes the book remarkable though is the concise yet vivid description of the various other physicists that Bohr interacted with and influenced. Ottaviani obviously felt compelled to tell the story of Bohr's life because he impacted so many different areas of science and revolutionized fields whose true merit has yet to be realized. Everyone should read this book in order to have a basic understanding of how the scientific notions that guide our lives today were first conceived of and then put into widespread implementation. It's a great read and an even better learning experience.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
To his colleagues, Niels Bohr was the "Pope of Physics." Razor-edged minds like Dirac, Franck, Frisch, Gamow, Klein, Mott, Oppenheimer, Pauli, Planck, Schrödinger, and others -- many of whom would later become Nobel laureates themselves -- to proud to say they had studied with Bohr. He was a poor lecturer because he never knew where his thoughts would take him and would often stop in the middle of an explanation when a new idea occurred to him. Without him, there would be no modern physics, no quantum mechanics, no basic understanding of the atom. And while Bohr sometimes entertained theories that turned out to be wrong -- which he was the first to admit -- even Einstein was wrong in areas where Bohr was right. Ottaviani is a very uneven graphics chronicler of modern science and scientists, but this is a very well thought out book, as successful an attempt as I have seen to explain Bohr's thought (as well as his humane and internationalist personal beliefs) and the basics concepts of quantum physics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. Polido on January 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Very funny and insightful; it was great to see the characterization of Neil Bohr and many other important physicists
A little physics background is good in order to properly understand all the jokes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frans Kok on January 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is really a good example of tough physics made accessible! I enjoyed reading the book and will definitely recommend it to students and colleagues.
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