THE BIG MACHINE by Robert Jungk


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The kind of historical perspective Jungk gave to atomic bomb research in Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (1958) is here attempted in relation to the development of the world's first major international laboratory sponsored by the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. It is an example of a current trend to write the history of science while the actors are still very much alive. Unfortunately CERN's story seems quite tame. Jungk either admires or veils the bloody back-biting. There is an attempt to build drama into the site-selection (Paris, Geneva, Copenhagen or Arnhem); there are political hostilities (anti-Americanism and attacks from the Communist countries); scientific competition between Bohr's group and others. The facts are there and occasionally fascinating problems are noted. And there are glimpses of the intense and often unorthodox personalities of the men who supervised the construction of the machine, descriptions of its successes in neutrino and other experiments. Jungk seems more sophisticated and readable at the end of the book where he discusses how Big Science is changing the nature of the scientist today--the effectiveness of the ""invisible university"" in which the elite communicate with each other all over the world--and the future of the Bigger Machines with greater opportunities for international cooperation.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Scribners