© 2008

Physicists on Wall Street and Other Essays on Science and Society


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Economists

    1. Pages 3-7
    2. Pages 9-14
  3. Scientists

  4. Linguists

  5. Fiction and Stranger than Fiction

    1. Pages 121-132
    2. Pages 147-154
    3. Pages 155-157
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 159-182

About this book


Over the years, Jeremy Bernstein has been in contact with many of the world’s most renowned physicists and other scientists, many of whom were involved in politics, literature, and language. In this diverse collection of essays, he reflects on their work, their personal relationships, their motives, and their contributions. Even for those people he writes about that he did not know personally, he provides important insights into their lives and work, and questions their character, their decisions, and the lives they led.

In the first three essays, for example, Professor Bernstein looks at economic theory and how some physicists who developed interesting economic models based on derivatives and hedge funds almost led to the country into bankruptcy. In later essays, he discusses a suspect visit to Poland by the great Heisenberg during the Nazi era, a visit that there is almost nothing written about.

There are essays on ancient languages and a nuclear weapons program in South Africa that was supposedly dismantled. In one particularly humorous essay, he describes how an ill-conceived manned spaceship to be powered by an atomic bomb was being developed by some of the country’s most powerful intellects. Needless to say, the project never got off the ground!

Dipping into these pages is like rummaging around in the mind of a genius who has a potpourri of interests and an abundance of fascinating experiences. Bernstein has not only has rubbed elbows with some of the finest minds in world, he has worked with them and played with them. He has sometimes mourned with them and laughed at them. His sharp wit and even sharper analysis make for reading you simply can’t put down.


Deciphering Linear-B Hedge Funds Heisenberg in Poland Henry Wotton Michel Thomas Nuclear weapons development South Africa's nuclear weapons Spencers of Althrop William Jones economic theory wall street bankrupt

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

About the authors

Many readers will recognize Bernstein (Cranks, Quarks & the Cosmos, LJ 1/93) as the noted science essayist for the New Yorker for the past 30 years. He has also contributed essays to Scientific American and The Atlantic Monthly. He wrote A Theory for Everything (Copernicus, 1996) which collected some of his essays as well as Hitler's Uranium Club 2e (Copernicus, 1996) and Secrets of the Old One: Einstein, 1905 (Springer, 2006).

Bibliographic information