Enrico Fermi is unquestionably among the greats of the world's physicists, the most famous Italian scientist since Galileo. Called the Pope by his peers, he was regarded as infallible in his instincts and research. His discoveries changed our world; they led to weapons of mass destruction and conversely to life-saving medical interventions.Read more...
Enrico Fermi is unquestionably among the greats of the world's physicists, the most famous Italian scientist since Galileo. Called the Pope by his peers, he was regarded as infallible in his instincts and research. His discoveries changed our world; they led to weapons of mass destruction and conversely to life-saving medical interventions.
This unassuming man struggled with issues relevant today, such as the threat of nuclear annihilation and the relationship of science to politics. Fleeing Fascism and anti-Semitism, Fermi became a leading figure in America's most secret project: building the atomic bomb. The last physicist who mastered all branches of the discipline, Fermi was a rare mixture of theorist and experimentalist. His rich legacy encompasses key advances in fields as diverse as comic rays, nuclear technology, and early computers.
In their revealing book, The Pope of Physics, Gino Segre and Bettina Hoerlin bring this scientific visionary to life. An examination of the human dramas that touched Fermi s life as well as a thrilling history of scientific innovation in the twentieth century, this is the comprehensive biography that Fermi deserves."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
By placing stunning scientific advances into historical context, this engaging biography of Nobel Prize–winning Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) captures the life and times of one of the 20th century’s most creative and hard-working scientists. Husband-and-wife authors Segrè (Ordinary Geniuses), emeritus professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Hoerlin (Steps of Courage), a former Philadelphia health commissioner, quickly construct a captivating image of Fermi, addressing such elements as his love of hands-on work and his long friendship with fellow student and practical joker Franco Rasetti. Drawn to theoretical physics, Fermi helped advance quantum mechanics from mathematical abstraction to experiment, yielding a clearer picture of the atom and explaining beta decay—the Nobel-winning work that laid the foundations for nuclear physics and the modern device-dependent world. The authors describe how Fermi and Laura, his Jewish wife, sought refuge from European fascism and anti-Semitism in the U.S., where Fermi’s efforts produced the first nuclear chain reaction and fueled the Manhattan Project. Segrè and Hoerlin draw an engaging portrait of a man with boundless curiosity who delighted in his work; fans of pop science and history will thoroughly enjoy this entertaining and accessible biography of a scientist who deserves to be better understood. (Oct.)