The Merely Personal : Observations on Science and Scientists
"Ever since I began studying science, Jeremy Bernstein writes, I have been struck by its human characteristics. Yet in his autobiography, Einstein said that he took up science precisely as an alternative to the merely personal. In fact there is no alternative to the merely personal, as Einstein s own life demonstrates. Thus the title of Mr. Bernstein s sparkling new collection of essays, which represent much of his work over the past ten years. When he first began writing about science for the New Yorker years ago, its editor, William Shawn, suggested that Mr. Bernstein write about science as a form of human experience. This he has been doing with great aplomb and success since 1960 his book Einstein, for example, was nominated for a National Book Award. In The Merely Personal, his essays range from an attempt to explain the quantum theory through the use of Tom Stoppard s play Hapgood, to a critical review of recent books on Einstein. They describe Mr. Bernstein s encounters with such people as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Hans Bethe, Bobby Fischer, and W. H. Auden. Readers will find an explanation of the origin of Newton s contention that he stood on the shoulders of giants; a description of a surreal encounter with the logician Kurt Godel; a discussion of computer chess; and an analysis of the attempts of the Germans to build an atomic bomb during World War II. Most of all they will find a relentlessly curious mind at work, its product conveyed in a compulsively readable style.
- Hardback | 256 pages
- 153.7 x 220.2 x 25.7mm | 472.77g
- 06 Feb 2001
- Ivan R Dee, Inc
- Chicago, United States
About Jeremy Bernstein
For nearly three decades Jeremy Bernstein wrote profiles of scientists for the New Yorker. Many were prize winners, and his book Einstein was nominated for the National Book Award. Mr. Bernstein, a theoretical physicist best known for his nonscientific work, has also written The Dawning of the Raj and Oppenheimer as well as Hitler's Uranium Club; Three Degrees Above Zero; and Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos. He lives in New York City and Aspen, Colorado.
Bernstein reminds one of how full of surprise and pleasure the world is. He enlightens and entertains. It's a rare combination, but then Mr. Bernstein is a rare bird.--Joseph Epstein