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The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics Paperback – February 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0813521770 ISBN-10: 0813521777 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; Reprint edition (February 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813521777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813521770
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #364,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A perfect model of "free enterprise" at work is the competitive-cooperative pursuit of knowledge about nature's fundamental particles by our century's physicists. Columbia University science historian Crease and Technology Illustrated editor Mann here trace virtually the entire story of what is today known as particle physics from Einstein's 1905 theory suggesting matter was both particles and waves, while at the same time Rutherford made his first proposals about the nature of the atom, through Bohr, Dirac, Schrodingersp?/have no way to check, so leave it.gs and others who developed quantum theory and quantum mechanics. These authors describe the heated arguments, debates, conferences and world-wide exchanges that took physicists, especially in the 1970s, to the discoveries of quarks, mesons, gluons and other such breakthroughs. Today, decades after Einstein's failure, Unification theories tying together the four fundamental forcesthe fourth, gravity, remains elusive, howeverare formulated almost daily. This is a demanding book, and gripping in an epochal sense.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This is the latest effort at a popular treatment of the "Grand Unified Theory" contemporary theoretical physicists are aiming to achieve. It presents a human-interest-style history of quantum electrodynamics and the ensuing elementary particle theory, enlivened by brief sketches of many of the key participants. As a whole, it is an entertaining volume, but some of the judgments and interpretations are questionable. Also, the complex mathematics of modern physics is entirely omitted, and a novice is likely to end his reading with some notion of the historical background but without a coherent understanding of the current "standard model" in elementary particle theory. Recommended, with reservations, for academic and public libraries. Jack W. Weigel, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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This is a compelling read, and highly recommended to anyone interested in this fascinating field.
Joshua L. Soldati
Each episode describes not only the physics but also provides interesting insights into the physicists who made the contributions.
John Fazio
I will caution that it is not a very light read, and the more physics you know, the more you will get out of this book.
Todd Van Woerkom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dr. C. G. Oakley on January 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the telling of the story of 20th century fundamental physics is a task that should not be entrusted to physicists. No, it appears a journalist and a philosopher are not only able to bring the story to life in a way that almost all physics text books fail to do, but at the same time to never lose sight of the important scientific issues.
I thought that I understood these issues well, having been a researcher in the area myself until 1987, but I have to report that they filled embarrassingly large gaps in my knowledge, particularly in relation to experiments, including in subjects that I used to teach to undergraduates.
I would recommend this book to anyone, but most of all to those who call themselves practitioners in the subject, to remind them of how, if at all, what they do fits in to the bigger picture, and also to remind them, to quote Murray Gell Mann (who was probably quoting someone else at the time), that "the best instrument that a theoretician has is his waste paper basket". As the mathematical tangents that theoreticians have gone off on in the last twenty years get ever more bizarre and disconnected from reality, I fully expect this to be full to overflowing soon.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl A Hackworth on February 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Given, I find the sciences interesting, but I never thought I would find myself endlessly turning pages of a physics book. The lives of these physicists was amazing and sometimes even more interesting than their discoveries. If you are at all interested in a "behind-the-scenes" look at post-Einsteinian physics, I would whole-heartedly recommend this book. I guarantee you'll be pleasently surprised. (Now if only there was a biology version of this book...)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By flashgordon on May 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Humans first drawings date to thirty thousand years ago even with Homo Erectus using fire for hundreds of thousands of years . . . all in all, human intellectual activities has been a source of wonder and fear for humanity for awhile now . . . witness the destruction of Jericho so many times . . . the destruction of Athens by the Spartans, Persians, and the killing of Archimedes by a Roman soldier . . . and then, there's the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the killing of Hypatia around 400 A.D.

Scientists themselves have had misunderstandings about the nature of their activity. In fact, even Galileo thought the euclidean geometry as the very substance of the world. Mathematians were slow to take seriously the philosophical ramifications of non-euclidean geometry; they even made non-standard algebras before Einstein's General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics threw the Newtonian world in a tail spin. Then, Kurt Godel came up with his incompleteness theorems of finite axiomatic systems and a few intellectuals wondered about the very nature of the mathematical sciences. To me, Jacob Bronowski's "Origins of Knowledge and Imagination" is the best synthesis of all these intellectual events,

but, perhaps Crease and Mann's "The Second Creation" is a good place to start seeing some of the issues of the scientific process General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics had on mathematical science as a whole. What's remarkable is that outside of the final chapters realization that scientific theory is about syntheses and analyses is really syntheses, is that they don't understand the nature of abstraction in mathematical science and the unified treatment of mathematics and science that Jacob Bronowski shows in his "Origin's of Knowledge and Imagination.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
I noticed this book in a store, picked it up, and almost couldn't put it down! It rewards the reader with insight on the current theoretical structure of physics, excellent background on how it got to where it currently is, and a wonderful personal view of the Theorists and Experimenters who helped to "get it there". Great for physicists, students, or interested laymen. A well written and well balanced book on a complex subject (up to and including the Standard Theory, and Grand Unified Theories).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joshua L. Soldati on February 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While not for the feint of heart, this exceptionally well-researched tome (clocking-in at over 400 pages) is a must-have for anyone interested in the history of particle physics in the 20th century. Although a bit out-of-date, with virtually no coverage of String theory or competing proposals to merge relativity and quantum mechanics, it is nonetheless a comprehensive narrative up through the "completion" of the Standard Model.

Perhaps the book's greatest achievement is its ability to move back-and-forth between historical developments within the scientific community and the development of the science itself. With countless interviews and original source materials, Crease & Mann capture the excitement of scientific discovery while giving an excellent layman's overview of those discoveries.

This is a compelling read, and highly recommended to anyone interested in this fascinating field.
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