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Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking

Biography / MemoirOut of Print

By: William H Cropper

512 pages, Illus

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Dec 2002 | #131519 | ISBN: 0195137485
Out of Print Details

About this book

Here is a lively history of modern physics, as seen through the lives of thirty men and women from the pantheon of physics. William H. Cropper vividly portrays the life and accomplishments of such giants as Galileo and Isaac Newton, Marie Curie and Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, right up to contemporary figures such as Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann, and Stephen Hawking. We meet scientists--all geniuses--who could be gregarious, aloof, unpretentious, friendly, dogged, imperious, generous to colleagues or contentious rivals. As Cropper captures their personalities, he also offers vivid portraits of their great moments of discovery, their bitter feuds, their relations with family and friends, their religious beliefs and education. In addition, since scientists in a particular field often inspire those who follow, Cropper has grouped these biographies by discipline--mechanics, thermodynamics, particle physics, and so on--each section beginning with a historical overview. Thus in the section on quantum mechanics, readers can see how the work of Max Planck influenced Niels Bohr, and how Bohr in turn influenced Werner Heisenberg. By sequencing the biographies in this way, Cropper gives us an overall portrait of each field. Our understanding of the physical world has increased dramatically in the last four centuries, starting with Galileo and his telescope and stretching to Stephen Hawking's work on black holes and cosmology. With Great Physicists, readers can retrace the footsteps of the men and women who led the way.

... fun to read ... I have learned a lot about the influence of great physicists on each other and on the flow of physics ... Read it! Contemporary Physics ... of interest to sixth-formers ... and to all students and professionals wishing for a rounder picture of science. Great physicists, great book, great buy-an ideal Christmas present. Neil Hancox, Material World Including International Mining and Minerals ... a book that has such excellent biographical information, mixed in with fully accurate science, that it can serve both as a good guide for top secondary-school students, and as a wise collation of advice and experience for working physicists at all levels beyond. Nature


PART 1: MECHANICS; 1. How the Heavens Go: Galileo Galilei; 2. A Man Obsessed: Isaac Newton; PART 2: THERMODYNAMICS; 3. A Tale of Two Revolutions: Sadi Carnot; 4. On the Dark Side: Robert Mayer; 5. A Holy Undertaking: James Joule; 6. Unities and a Unifier: Hermann Helmholtz; 7. The Scientist as Virtuoso: William Thomson; 8. The Road to Entropy: Rudolf Clausius; 9. The Greatest Simplicity: Willard Gibbs; 10. The Last Law: Walther Nernst; PART 3: ELECTROMAGNETISM; 11. A Force of Nature: Michael Faraday; 12. The Scientist as Magician: James Clerk Maxwell; PART 4: STATISTICAL MECHANICS; 13. Molecules and Entropy: Ludwig Boltzmann; PART 5: RELATIVITY; 14. Adventure in Thought: Albert Einstein; PART 6: QUANTUM MECHANICS; 15. Reluctant Revolutionary: Max Planck; 16. Science by Conversation: Niels Bohr; 17. The Scientist as Critic: Wolfgang Pauli; 18. Matrix Mechanics: Werner Heisenberg; 19. Wave Mechanics: Erwin Schrodinger and Louise de Broglie; PART 7: NUCLEAR PHYSICS; 20. Opening Doors: Marie Curie; 21. On the Crest of a Wave: Ernest Rutherford; 22. Physics and Friendships: Lise Meitner; 23. Complete Physicist: Enrico Fermi; PART 8: PARTICLE PHYSICS; 24. *I*g*d*v = *m*v: Paul Dirac; 25. What Do You Care?: Richard Feyman; 26. Telling the Tale of the Quarks: Murray Gell-Mann; PART 9: ASTRONOMY, ASTROPHYSICS, AND COSMOLOGY; 27. Beyond the Galaxy: Edwin Hubble; 28. Ideal Scholar: Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar; 29. Affliction, Fame, and Fortune: Stephen Hawking; CHRONOLOGY OF THE MAIN EVENTS; GLOSSARY; INVITATION TO MORE READING; INDEX

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