Book review 9) 10 Physicists who transformed our understanding of reality

today I will do the review of 10 Physicists… bla bla. I started to read this book right after Christmas when I got it(but I read only one chapter finishing it last week). I actually wrote post about the first one in the list: Galileo Galilei.

Book: 10 Physicists who transformed our understanding of reality

Author: Rhodri Evans, Brian Clegg

Genre: Science, Physics

Pages: 258

Rating: 9.2/10

10 Physicists.. is a book that takes ten most important physicists in last 400 years and dissects their life and their impact.

Of course this list can not be very objective since you do not have any clear scale for something like this. I think most people would probably agree on the first four definitely:

  1. Isaac Newton
  2. Niels Bohr
  3. Galileo Galilei
  4. Albert Einstein

So sure, I would definitely from my perspective agree with those four though I was quite surprised that Bohr was rated so high. The problem is of course that most people will tend to remember Einstein and his theory of relativity but completely forget that Bohr did similar type of work but on quantum mechanics (plus many other things). Galileo may be surprising but when you consider his work on heliocentric system, well I would maybe swap him with Einstein though it is quite hard to compare people that lived in totally different times.

5.    James Clerk Maxwell
6.   Michael Faraday
7.   Marie Curie
8.   Richard Feynman
9.   Ernest Rutherford
10. Paul Dirac

In the first chapter the authors have quite good discussion about this list since they used some resources that already made similar ones. Maybe Schrödinger or Heisenberg should be there.. or Fermi?

Well we have to stuck with this one.

In my opinion the chapter that was done best was Marie Curie, I wrote about her in the last post and I must say that it was kind of thrilling, her work with pitchblende and the years that radioactivity was “adding” up in her and her husband’s body.

I guess that they could have done more work on Rutherford for example. Probably because he was so down in the list they did not want to give him so many pages but when I look back I do not remember much about him.

Otherwise I can dearly recommend this one if you do not know much about these people.

Newton who spent about the same amount of time on physics as on teology.
Bohr who was dismissed by king since he was correcting what he said.
Galileo with his: throwing stuff from Pisa tower.
Einstein who never got over the quantum theory and its probabilities.
Maxwell who finally made the theory that unified electrism and magnetism.
Faraday with his famous lectures that were attended sometimes attended by more than 1600 people.

This had to be

Feynman playing his bongos:

That is whole new style

Rutherford and his new model of atom (as always for atom models, proved wrong).
Dirac with his serious social problems but pretty cool mathematical skills.