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"The Great Physicists from Galileo to Einstein" by George Gamow

Fantastic coverage talking about the greatest physicists known in American history.

It is this book I went right in after reading Mathematics and the Physical World, and coming away praising the physical beauty of the world in which we live in. I don't know about you but it's nice when books inspire you to venture and expand your knowledge of a particular subject, no matter how difficult it may seem. What better way to do so than learn about the idea and the development of the awesome world of Physics? (Growing up, I thought Physics was near-impossible to learn and understand.)

Author George Gamow talks about the idea, the study and the various areas of Physics made possible by the ones who have brought up the science during the B.C. era. It was the Greeks that sparked up the existence we call atoms, that make up our Universe, our planet and ourselves. While religion and the church were the ideal beliefs strongly indoctrinated in society that time, it was then scientists went ahead to pursue and continue studying the discipline to define our world, ourselves, our Fate, and practically, our Universe. What's nice is this book also gives you a glimpse of every discipline in Physics, from Thermodynamics to Quantum Mechanics.

Gamow writes about every physicist, both known worldwide and those lesser known, and does so in such a fashion where you won't feel like you're reading another encyclopedia. The writing is engaging, gentle and at times, humorous. Along with the biographies of the great physicists comes a brief explanation of their theoretical findings, mathematics and essays/papers they published to share their findings. Did you know Galileo climbed atop the Tower of Pisa to drop objects to the floor to solidify his take on gravity? Another thing I liked were the exclusive, rare pictures of the meetings and science gatherings taking place featuring the biggest names in Physics, most were taken during the early 1900s. Approaching near the middle of the book, up to the end, there's a lot of mention of physicist Niels Bohr. Not that that's a bad thing, but you'll read and see why his success and his students went on to become key contributors to Physics. Whether you know him or not, the book will make you give more attention and higher respects to Bohr.

If anything, Gamow's synopsis about him meeting with Albert Einstein hanging around in his office sounded anti-climatic but triggered a huge amount of curiosity. While Einstein was doing work, Gamow actually asked him about the equations and the tensor analyses Einstein was working on. Einstein informed Gamow that he was working on what is called the Unified Field Theory, where, if the theory holds, Einstein can finalize his research in stating that Physics is nothing more than Geometry (I assume that meant more spacial mathematics and less emphasis on rates of changes—Calculus). What got my face pressed against the book was when Gamow mentioned that Einstein kept quiet about his mathematics in contribution to the newly founded Unified Field Theory. According to my research, UFT is still open for research (at that point, one must be an expert in tensors). That leads me to my question: Why did Einstein stay silent about his work on UFT? Was Einstein not finished yet, or afraid his discovery would get his work stolen? Very tough to tell, as I did wish Einstein lived for another 10 or 20 years.

Other than that, as mentioned before, it's not some other encyclopedia written to ignore the attention of the reader to make them fall asleep (I greatly dislike authors that do that). No need to worry when a talented writer like Gamow, who lived during the strong rise of Physics along with having the chance in meeting some of these fine gentlemen, provides a biography of a subject that doesn't mind getting a lot of attention but requires serious concentration and analysis to do it. How are the physicists themselves? While they do belong in set of "geeky" people, the work they've done deserve lots of respect and attention, because I'm certain we wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for them. HUGE handshakes, gentlemen and for the women physicists out there as well.

A great book to remind yourselves to praise and be thankful for making Physics what it is today! Check this title out!





  • Perfect explanations and stories about the greatest physicists known in American history.
  • Great for students and professors of Physics.
  • None.
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Title The Great Physicists From Galileo to Einstein
Author(s) George Gamow
Description Widely recognized as one of the 20th century's foremost physicists, George Gamow was also an unusually capable popularizer of science. His talents are vividly revealed in this exciting and penetrating explanation of how the central laws of physical science evolved—from Pythagoras' discovery of frequency ratios in the sixth century B.C. to today's research on elementary particles.

Unlike many books on physics which focus entirely on fact and theory with little or no historic detail, the present work incorporates fascinating personal and biographical data about the great physicists of past and present. Thus Dr. Gamow discusses on an equal basis the trial of Galileo and the basic laws of mechanics which he discovered, or gives his personal recollections about Niels Bohr along with detailed discussion of Bohr's atomic model. You'll also find revealing glimpses of Newton, Huygens, Heisenberg, Pauli, Einstein and many other immortals of science.

Each chapter is centered around a single great figure, or at most two, with other physicists of the era and their contributions forming a background. Major topics include the dawn of physics, the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, Newtonian physics, heat as energy, electricity, the relativistic revolution, quantum theory, and the atomic nucleus and elementary particles.

As Dr. Gamow points out in the Preface, the aim of this book is to give the reader the feeling of what physics is, and what kinds of people physicists are. This delightfully informal approach, combined with the book's clear, easy-to-follow explanations, will especially appeal to young raaders but will stimulate and entertain science enthusiasts of all ages.
Dedication --
ISBN 978-0-486-25767-9
Book Dimensions Width: 5.88″ (5 7/8″)
Height: 8.5″ (8½″)
Depth: 0.75″ (¾″)
Page Count 360
Contents Preface, The Dawn of Physics, The Dark Ages and the Renaissance, God said, "Let Newton Be!", Heat as Energy, The Age of Electricity, Relativistic Revolution, The Law of Quantum, The Atomic Nucleus and Elementary Particles, Sources, Index
Cover Design Paul E. Kennedy
Published 1988 (originally published in 1961)
Publisher Dover Publications ( Originally published by Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York.
Copyright © 1961 by George Gamow
Manufactured / Printed in United States of America by Courier Corporation (25767312)
Book Format Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, eBook
Quoted Reviews "This book is Gamow at his best, which means the very best in science for the layman." — Library Journal

"George Gamow is the ideal biographer of physics . . . The whole thing is a tour de force covering all the important landmarks . . . " — Guardian
Best Seller's List --
Other Unabridged Dover (1988) republication of The Biography of Physics, published by Harper & Row, New York, 1961.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 1. Physics—History.
I. Title
CIP Number 88-17677
LC Control Number ????
LC Call Number QC7.G27  1988
DDC Call Number 530″.092″2—dc19

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