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Take seriously that subtitle—for what this fascinating book is all about are devices and procedures that allow the imaging of even a single atom suspended in a tiny doughnut-shaped trap. Von Baeyer (Physics/College of William and Mary), who charmed lay and professional readers alike with his Rainbows, Snowflakes and Quarks (1984), takes his main title from the fox in Saint ExupÇry's The Little Prince, who described ``taming: as establishing bonds—a process that happens slowly and with patience.'' So it has been, von Baeyer contends, with the history of atomic theory from Democritus to Einstein down to the latter-day stars of quantum mechanics. He reminds us that no less a giant of physics than Ernst Mach stoutly denied the existence of atoms at the end of the 19th century. Now, while there are no doubters, there remain the paradoxes of quantum mechanics—such as wave- particle duality: In the ``Copenhagen'' interpretation, an electron is potentially either a wave or a particle and the act of measurement determines which. Einstein rejected that notion, arguing instead that there is an objective reality beyond acts of measurement. Von Baeyer sorts out the history and experiments behind the paradoxes to bring us up to date with new theories to resolve them—including the use of ingenious devices such as a ``quantum eraser'' sensitive to a photon extracted from a single atom. Other clever atom-taming devices in the author's marvelous catalog include an apparatus that can prevent the spontaneous emission of an atom; ``tuned'' lasers that can detect impurities in a sample down to a single atom; and the ``magic wrist''—a machine that ``feels'' the ``surface roughness of the atomic landscape.'' And all this told in that combination of depth of knowledge and eyewitness narrative that marks the best science writing. (Eight pages of color illustrations—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-40039-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1992

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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