NIELS BOHR: Gentle Genius of Denmark by Ray & Diane K. Moser Spangenburg

NIELS BOHR: Gentle Genius of Denmark

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In the Makers of Modern Science series, a readable, somewhat uninspired, biography of the ""father of the atom"" and, as mentor, the central figure in the heroic age of atomic physics. Following an evocative account of Bohr's upbringing in Denmark, Spangenburg and Moser (The History of Science in the Eighteenth Century, 1993) describe the evolution of Bohr's model of the atom, introduce the ideas of Planck and Einstein in the process, then sketch a brief, accessible history of quantum mechanics. In each successive context, Bohr appears as an unparalleled source of influence and inspiration for the people around him, and readers meet a number of them (Rutherford, Einstein, Pauli, Schr"dinger, Heisenberg, Born), as thinkers and as personalities. While the book conveys a coherent impression of the atmosphere in which Bohr worked in the 1920s and '30s, it fizzles in its treatment of the last 20 years of Bohr's life, a dull transcription of his itinerary as lecturer and activist, good only for copying into book reports. Overall, the work is rather spineless, and the whole is less than the sum of its parts: several loosely linked sections, each one pointing in a different direction. In the end, the book does the job; it's a life well worth knowing.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
Page count: 111pp
Publisher: Facts on File