Geons Black Holes And Quantum Foam: A Life In Physics Hardcover – Aug 4 1998
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What are little physicists made of? Geons, Black Holes & Quantum Foam, in John Wheeler's science autobiography. To the rest of us, getting excited over the properties of atomic nuclei and the forces that hold invisible particles together may seem eccentric, to say the least. But physicists hold the secrets of the universe in their heads, and they have a special place in human history. Einstein, Bohr, Fermi, Oppenheimer--their names are inextricably linked with the mysteries of the atom. Wheeler, among the most creative physicists of our time, tackled questions related to the nature of space, time, and gravity alongside his more well known colleagues. Renowned as a teacher, Wheeler worked with student Richard Feynman to imagine a subatomic world where particles move backward in time. With fellow physicist and former student Ken Ford, Wheeler has crafted an engaging look at the eye of the 20th-century physics hurricane. There's a lot of physics in this book, which may put off those shy of its terminology and abstractions, but the stories and photographs of the men and women who know the atom will help readers see the humanity in science, and the warmth and passion of its practitioners. This is a remarkable history of one man's part in revealing the underlying nature of everything. --Therese Littleton
From Library Journal
The lives of the key figures in 20th-century physics have been copiously documented in dozens of biographical and historical works. Somewhat unusually, Wheeler, perhaps best known for having coined the term black hole, chose to write his own story. The results are personal (but not especially insightful) and informative (but not especially revealing). He begins with his account of the discovery of fission and the Manhattan Project, which has been retold so many times that his anecdotes supply nothing new. Likewise, his remembrances of subsequent research into electromagnetic and gravitational fields, conducted against the backdrop of the Cold War, are honest and poignant but quite familiar to readers of this genre. Wheeler is best at explaining the significance of his own work in lay terms, and he gives an enticing view of his latest vision of physics, in which "everything is information." A rigorous scientific biography would do more justice to his career. Recommended, with reservations, for academic and larger public libraries.?Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, FL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
ON MONDAY, January 16, 1939, I taught my morning class at Princeton University, then took a train to New York and walked across town to the Hudson River dock where the Danish physicist Niels Bohr was scheduled to arrive on the MS Drottningholm. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
In addition to learning about his own distinguished career, you meet just about every other important physicist and/or mathematician or had anything to do with physics (such as Carson Mark, who I didn't know about before, who Wheeler spoke highly of), and his account is full of interesting personal details about famous and non-famous physicists alike. Wheeler met or knew other great scientists like Einstein, Niels Bohr, Richard Feynman, Hans Bethe, Oppenheimer, Stanislaw Ulam, John von Neumann, Enrico Fermi, Ernest Lawrence, Isidore Rabi, Leo Szilard, Carl Bohm, and many others too numerous to mention.
In addition to the above famous names, I also learned something about many other names, both famous and not so famous, that I didn't know much about before, and Wheeler often briefly mentions what each scientist's contribution was about, especially when it influenced his own thinking.
Wheeler provides some important insights about himself. For example, he commented on how much of his own productivity was due to the deadlines and time pressure he was under most of his career.Read more ›
Wheeler's remarkable character pervades the book and helps make it unique and interesting. In a profession legendary for strong intellects and egos, he has achieved and maintained a pomposity coefficient of zero. His judgments of other people are unfailingly generous, but also astute enough to be interesting and revealing. He provides candid firsthand impressions of legendary figures such as Bohr, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Teller, Ulam, Heisenberg, Fermi, Szilard and Feynman . We also learn about many less well-known colleagues, friends and students whom he finds memorable for various reasons. In contrast to the eminent-scientist stereotype, Wheeler has always enjoyed teaching undergraduates and is genuinely interested in the problems and aspirations of the young people entrusted to his care.
Like the brilliant George Gamow, Wheeler has a talent for explaining difficult concepts and illustrating them with whimsically inventive diagrams.Read more ›
This present work of his traces his life, a life that is (as the cover says) one of science. However, one of the nice facets of this book is that it goes beyond just the laboratory & reveals the personal life of this great man. We learn of the moving death of his brother in WWII, his worries and concerns over nuclear war (as well as the grapples with his conscience that he endured over the invention of the hydrogen bomb) and many other aspects of his life. He also tells stories of some of his most memorable students; not all of these were necessarily his most gifted pupils. Above all, Wheeler reveals a genuine human passion that has characterized his approach to science over the greater part of this century. One of the best biographies of a scientist I have ever read.
Most recent customer reviews
The physics is fine but this is an autobiography. What kind of a man is Wheeler? I got the impression he spent as much time avoiding offending anybody important as he did on... Read morePublished on Dec 2 2002 by Norman Epstein
Well, now that I have the book I can up it to 5 stars. I also found that my memory was a little faulty, but what can you expect after 45 years. Read morePublished on Feb. 18 1999
As biographies go this is a good read. The physics, though superficial, is quite informative. I do wish Dr. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 1999
I had the great fortune to meet Dr. Wheeler this year, and was thus inspired to read his autobiography. I'm very glad I did so. Read morePublished on Dec 27 1998
I learned a lot from this important book, even though I am a chemical engineer. Especially insightful is the chapter "It from Bit", where the famous two-slit experiment... Read morePublished on Dec 27 1998 by Ljubisa R. Radovic
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