A physicist himself, Gino Segrè writes about what scientists doand why they do itwith intimacy, clarity, and passion. In Faust in Copenhagen, he evokes the fleeting, magical moment when physicsand the worldwas about to lose its innocence forever. Known by physicists as the miracle year, 1932 saw the discovery of the neutron and antimatter, as well as the first artificially induced nuclear transmutations. However, while scientists celebrated these momentous discoverieswhich presaged the nuclear era and the emergence of big scienceduring a meeting at Niels Bohr's Copenhagen Institute, Europe was moving inexorably toward totalitarianism and war.
Any reluctance I had to revisit these shrines was quickly overcome by Segrč s inviting touch. A theoretical physicist at the University of Pennsylvania and a nephew of Emilio Segrč, who collaborated with Fermi on radioactivity research, the author begins with the Faust parody and circles back to it again and again. It acts like a magnet, reshaping the familiar into an interesting new design.