Known to physicists as the “miracle year,” 1932 saw the discovery of the neutron and the first artificially induced nuclear transmutation. However, while physicists celebrated these momentous discoveries–which presaged the era of big science and nuclear bombs–Europe was moving inexorably toward totalitarianism and war. In April of that year, about forty of the world’s leading physicists–including Werner Heisenberg, Lise Meitner, and Paul Dirac–came to Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen Institute for their annual informal meeting about the frontiers of physics. Physicist Gino Segrße brings to life this historic gathering, which ended with a humorous skit based on Goethe’s Faust–little knowing the Faustian bargains they would face in the near future. Capturing the interplay between the great scientists as well as the discoveries they discussed and debated, Segrße evokes the moment when physics–and the world–was about to lose its innocence.–From publisher description.Documents the 1932 gathering of forty of the world’s top names in physics, placing the meeting against a backdrop of key scientific developments while offering insight into how unsuspecting collaborations gave way to subsequent historical events.
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