Synopses & Reviews
A biography of two maverick scientists whose intellectual wanderlust kick-started modern genomics and cosmology.
Max Delbruck and George Gamow, the so-called ordinary geniuses of Segre's third book, were not as famous or as decorated as some of their colleagues in midtwentieth-century physics, yet these two friends had a profound influence on how we now see the world, both on its largest scale (the universe) and its smallest (genetic code). Their maverick approach to research resulted in truly pioneering science.
Wherever these men ventured, they were catalysts for great discoveries. Here Segre honors them in his typically inviting and elegant style and shows readers how they were far from "ordinary". While portraying their personal lives Segre, a scientist himself, gives readers an inside look at how science is done--collaboration, competition, the influence of politics, the role of intuition and luck, and the sense of wonder and curiosity that fuels these extraordinary minds.
Ordinary Geniuses will appeal to the readers of Simon Singh, Amir Aczel, and other writers exploring the history of scientific ideas and the people behind them.
A physicist himself, Gino Segrand#232; writes about what scientists do?and why they do it?with intimacy, clarity, and passion. In Faust in Copenhagen
, he evokes the fleeting, magical moment when physics?and the world?was about to lose its innocence forever. Known by physicists as the miracle year, 1932 saw the discovery of the neutron and antimatter, as well as the first artificially induced nuclear transmutations. However, while scientists celebrated these momentous discoveries?which presaged the nuclear era and the emergence of big science?during a meeting at Niels Bohr?s Copenhagen Institute, Europe was moving inexorably toward totalitarianism and war.
In a wonderful synthesis of science, history, and imagination, Gino Segrè, an internationally renowned theoretical physicist, embarks on a wide-ranging exploration of how the fundamental scientific concept of temperature is bound up with the very essence of both life and matter. Why is the internal temperature of most mammals fixed near 98.6°? How do geologists use temperature to track the history of our planet? Why is the quest for absolute zero and its quantum mechanical significance the key to understanding superconductivity? And what can we learn from neutrinos, the subatomic "messages from the sun" that may hold the key to understanding the birth-and death-of our solar system? In answering these and hundreds of other temperature-sensitive questions, Segrè presents an uncanny view of the world around us.
A fascinating tribute to the forefathers of two of todays most exciting scientific fields
Thanks to Max Delbruck and George Gamow, today we have mapped the human genome and understand the ramifications of the Big Bang. In his characteristically inviting and elegant style, Gino Segre brings to life the story of these two great scientists and their long friendship and offers an accessible inside look the people behind the scenes of sciencethe collaboration and competition, the quirks and failures, the role of intuition and luck, and the sense of wonder and curiosity that keeps these extraordinary minds going.
About the Author
Gino Segrè is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. An internationally renowned expert in high-energy elementary-particle theoretical physics, Segrè has served as director of Theoretical Physics at the National Science Foundation and received awards from the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. This is his first book.