AUTHORSegrè, Gino
TITLEFaust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics
PUBLISHERViking Press
CITYNew York, NY
DATE PUBLISHED2007
ISBN978-0-670-03858-9


This book recounts the lives of seven prominent physicists (Niels Bohr, Max Delbrück, Paul Dirac, Paul Ehrenfest, Werner Heisenberg, Lise Meitner, and Wolfgang Pauli) using a particular meeting between six of the seven as the central event from which to relate their scientific and personal histories. The book draws its title from a skit performed by the physicists at the 1932 meeting in Copenhagen, known as the “Copenhagen Faust.” Segrè establishes a parallel between Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust and the lives of the physicists themselves. In this way, the skit serves as a formal and thematic thread through a narrative that shifts in time and place between history and the author’s own reflections. Although scientifically and historically informative, the book attends mainly to the interaction and struggle of the characters, aiming to show how the physicists' collaborative spirit of camaraderie was instrumental to their great success as individuals and as a group.


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