From Publishers Weekly
In this enlightening collection, novelist and science writer Lightman (Einstein's Dreams
) has assembled the original works announcing 25 of the world's pioneering scientific breakthroughs, coupling them with original essays to create a meditation on the "exhilaration of discovery." The lineup is a who's who of 20th-century science—Einstein, Planck, Fleming—ranging from quantum physics to astronomy, medicine, genetics and chemistry. Lightman is at his best when humanizing the scientists behind the world's major discoveries; he offers a stunning recollection from Caltech in the 1970s, when he was a graduate student, of Richard Feynman virulently attacking a world-weary Werner Heisenberg, author of the uncertainty principle, for a terrible lecture and, implicitly, for having worked on an atom bomb for the Nazis. Unfortunately, the heart of the collection, the landmark papers themselves, will prove to be stultifying and unintelligible for readers not well versed in science. Still, Lightman's elegant accompanying narratives are strong enough to carry the book. In an age when science is expanding at a faster clip than ever before, from supercomputing to cloning, this collection is a well-timed reminder of the humanity that surrounds and indeed drives scientific discovery. B&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the
*Starred Review* No one serious about literature would neglect Shakespeare and rely solely on his interpreters. But scientists rarely read what physicist and writer Lightman calls "original discovery papers." Believing that "the first reports of the great discoveries of science are works of art," Lightman has selected 25 twentieth-century "breakthrough" papers in fields ranging from quantum physics to molecular biology, medicine, and cosmology that essentially define the world as we know it. Writing with his signature clarity, warmth, and sense of wonder, Lightman introduces each landmark work with a crystalline essay elucidating the personality and life of each scientist and the significance of that scientist's paradigm-altering discovery. Lightman is especially sensitive to the suffering of Jewish German scientists under the Nazis and of women scientists in the days of institutionalized misogyny, and he writes with remarkable insight about the psychological effect of such counterintuitive findings as Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Fluent in every field he explicates, Lightman offers unprecedented commentary on each paper's style of reasoning. And how extraordinary to hold a single volume containing papers by Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Henrietta Leavitt, Linus Pauling, Edwin Hubble, and Barbara McClintock. This brilliantly conceived and assembled treasury belongs in every library. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
--This text refers to the