Ordinary Geniuses: Max Delbr%C3%BCck, George Gamow, and the Origins of Genomics and Big Bang Cosmology

Gino Segr%C3%A8. Viking, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-670-02276-2
Extraordinary geniuses, like Einstein, turn our scientific worldview inside out. "Ordinary geniuses," according to University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus Segrè (Faust in Copenhagen), "are more imaginative than you and me, but not qualitatively different." Two such men were George Gamow and Max Delbrück, whose groundbreaking work inspired scientific revolutions. As students together at university in Göttingen, Germany, in the late 1920s, Geo (pronounced "Joe") and Max were fascinated by quantum mechanics. Geo quickly gained notoriety for calculating the decay probability of an unstable nucleus, a problem Ernest Rutherford had failed to solve. Later he worked out how stars burn by nuclear fusion, and the Big Bang theory of cosmology. Max itched to do "the pioneering thing," but couldn't settle on one field. Curious about connections between physics and biology, he studied genetics, where he was first to explain mutation with physics. Both men found entertainment as well as intellectual stimulation in gathering diverse minds to explore interdisciplinary connections. Segrè spins a rousing tale of scientific thought and adventure. And like his subjects, he makes a convincing case for approaching new problems with a sense of wonder. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/20/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-51773-4
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-50833-6
Paperback - 328 pages - 978-0-14-312130-5
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