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
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