cover image Conversations on the Dark Secrets of Physics

Conversations on the Dark Secrets of Physics

Edward Teller. Plenum Publishing Corporation, $23.95 (247pp) ISBN 978-0-306-43772-4

These ``conversations'' on a dozen major themes of modern physics are derived from Edward Teller's physics appreciation course designed for high school students. The eminent physicist's scientific passions and confidence are everywhere on display here, beginning in the ``Prolog-Warning'' to the reader: ``I claim that relativity and the rest of modern physics is not complicated. . . . It is only unusual.'' From ``Relativity'' in chapter one he proceeds at full steam through the uncertainty principle, statistical mechanics, Maxwell's Equations, quantum mechanics, superconductors--straight up a steep learning curve of the most challenging and inspiring theories in the science of matter. To their credit, the coauthors (Wendy Teller, a computer scientist, is Edward Teller's daughter; Talley is a University of California professor of applied science) do not spare the general reader all of the mathematical summaries; on the other hand, the occasional footnote-repartee among them is seldom helpful. Teller's ``conversations'' do not have the charm of Richard Feynman's The Feynman Lectures on Physics , but they have the signature of the scientific human mind at its most admirable task: seeking the ``great remaining secrets.'' Readers are advised to bring a good scientific dictionary and sit up front for this tour of 20th-century physics with a distinguished scientist``scholar'' to avoid repetition?/no, Teller has never been noted as a scholar, strictly as a distinguished . (May)