The Soul of Genius: Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and the Meeting That Changed the Course of Science

Jeffrey Orens. Pegasus, $28.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64313-714-8
Orens, a former executive at Solvay Chemical, over-promises and under-delivers in his debut, a look at the first Solvay Conference in which “the most brilliant scientific minds” came together. Organized in 1911 by Ernest Solvay, the conference was designed to bring a handful of the world’s leading physicists together to discuss the breakthroughs roiling the field. While both Marie Curie and Albert Einstein attended, they had only brief interactions at the meeting, and Orens fails to present evidence that the conference “changed the course of science.” Instead, he offers biographical snippets of Curie, Einstein, and Solvay that provide little insight beyond what has already been written about them by others, and the thumbnail portraits can be frustratingly repetitive; the fact that Solvay didn’t attend college because of medical issues and was self-taught, for example, is brought up seven times. While there are some entertaining tangents (such as discussions of the theft of the Mona Lisa and a brief history of the bubonic plague), they’re mostly irrelevant to the unproved notion that Curie and Einstein influenced the scientific ideas of each other. Readers interested in the history of physics or the lives of its luminaries will be better served elsewhere. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/19/2021
Release date: 07/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-63936-217-2
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