Synopses & Reviews
On the night of March 26, 1938, nuclear physicist Ettore Majorana boarded a ship, cash and passport in hand. He was never seen again. In A Brilliant Darkness
, theoretical physicist João Magueijo tells the story of Majorana and his research group, the Via Panisperna Boys,” who discovered atomic fission in 1934. As Majorana, the most brilliant of the group, began to realize the implications of what they had found, he became increasingly unstable. Did he commit suicide that night in Palermo? Was he kidnapped? Did he stage his own death?
A Brilliant Darkness chronicles Majoranas invaluable contributions to scienceincluding his major discovery, the Majorana neutrinowhile revealing the truth behind his fascinating and tragic life.
Part mystery, part biography and part nuclear physics primer
. Magueijos examination of Majorana
reveals a troubled, confounding man whose disappearance has inspired as many conspiracy theories as the Roswell incident.”
[Magueijo] could have easily fallen into the jargon of his profession to describe the work of a fellow scientist, but he does not. His clear explanation of Majoranas insight into nuclear physics, often accompanied with drawings and illustrations, will appeal to a wide audience.”
A Brilliant Darkness excavates Majoranas troubled life, explaining his contributions to physics and uncovering new clues about his peculiar disappearance more than 70 years ago.”
Booklist (starred review)
Magueijo explains [Majoranas] scientific theories in mercifully simple terms. But what simple terms can illuminate a tortured and unstable personality, vulnerable to bouts of depression and prone to antisocial reclusiveness? The complexities of that personality resist assimilation into any of the standard explanations suicide, kidnapping, flight, monastic retreat for Majoranas disappearance. But astounded readers will thank Magueijo for his daring venture into the science and the psyche of a perplexing figure.”
A Brilliant Darkness interweaves explanations of Majoranas physics with his life story, and the result is an enlightening and strangely gripping journey into the heart of science and the minds of scientists.
This tale is about the journey, not the destination, and a trip through Majoranas life is a journey well worth taking.”
The latest thesis on the disappearance of physicist Ettore Majorana
reminds us of the Nobel-prizewinning quality of the discoveries he made during his brief career.”
[A] wonderful telling of the entire Majorana story
. Like a true scientist, Magueijo seems unsatisfied to hear from others what they believed happened to Majorana, so he goes in search of the truth himself
. Magueijo makes the story sound more like a gossip column than a history. Who says physicists cant stir up human emotion?”
A Brilliant Darkness is not a traditional biography of Ettore Majorana
. The book offers good descriptions of basic nuclear physics, the positron, and Feynman diagrams. It also covers the physics of neutrinos in some depth.”
One of the greatest mysteries of twentieth-century science: a tormented genius discovers a key element of atomic fission, then disappears forever
About the Author
João Magueijo is a lecturer in Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London, where he was for three years a Royal Society Research Fellow. He has been a visiting researcher at the University of California at Berkeley and Princeton University, and received his doctorate in Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University. Magueijo was featured in a British television documentary, "Einstein's Biggest Blunder," which was broadcast last year. Visit the author's website at http://theory.ic.uk/~magueijo/.