, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 139–142 | Cite as

A difficult subject leavened with human interest

Jim Baggott: The quantum story: A history in 40 moments: New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, xix+469pp, $29.95 HB
  • Naomi Pasachoff
Book Review

As we approach the November 2012 semicentennial of the death of Niels Bohr, this engrossing history of the development of Bohr’s legacy, the quantum theory, is especially timely and welcome. In his preface, Baggott reveals that he had initially hoped “to write a ‘biography’ of quantum theory based on the biographies of the physicists who forged it and refined it” (xv). While The Quantum Storyis not exactly that book, it does provide a glimpse into the lives of many who number in what Baggott calls (in reference to American physicist Murray Gell-Mann in Chapter 21) “the long and illustrious line of prodigious intellects that came to be applied to problems in quantum physics in the twentieth century” (206), including not only well-known figures but also some who lack instant name recognition. (The second category includes not only runners-up to fame, such as American physicist Ralph de Laer Kronig, who bitterly resented the dismissal of his theory of self-rotation and felt he had been...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Williams CollegeWilliamstownUSA

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