The Joy of Insight: Passions of a Physicist

Victor Frederick Weisskopf, Author Basic Books $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-465-03678-3
This worldly, humane, modestly told autobiography records the charmed life of one of the founders of modern physics. Austrian-born Weisskopf, who helped invent the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, became one of the first and sharpest voices warning of the perils of a nuclear arms race. This pioneer in particle physics believes, like his mentor Niels Bohr, that mystical and spiritual experiences are complementary to the scientific approach;he is a pianist with a deep love of classical music. Weisskopf worked with many great scientists--Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, Fermi--and directed the CERN particle-smashing laboratory in Geneva. Raised in a comfortable, assimilated Jewish family, he saw the post-WW I culture of Vienna and Berlin eclipsed by Nazi barbarism. Now an MIT emeritus professor, he views scientific enterprise within the context of a world that overemphasizes the rationalist side of things. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-465-03677-6
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