Acclaimed popular-science writer Brian Clegg and popular TV and radio astronomer Rhodri Evans give us a Top Ten list of physicists as the central theme to build an exploration of the most exciting breakthroughs in physics, looking not just at the science, but also the fascinating lives of the scientists themselves. The Top Ten are: 1.Isaac Newton (1642-1727) 2.Niels Bohr (1885-1962) 3.Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) 4.Albert Einstein (1879-1955) 5.James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) 6.Michael Faraday (1791-1867) 7.Marie Curie (1867-1934) 8.Richard Feynman (1918-1988) 9.Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) 10.Paul Dirac (1902-1984) Each of these figures has made a huge contribution to physics. Some are household names, others more of a mystery, but in each case there is an opportunity to combine a better understanding of the way that each of them has advanced our knowledge of the universe with an exploration of their often unusual, always interesting lives.
Whether we are with Curie, patiently sorting through tons of pitchblende to isolate radium or feeling Bohr's frustration as once again Einstein attempts to undermine quantum theory, the combination of science and biography humanizes these great figures of history and makes the Physics itself more accessible. In exploring the way the list has been built the authors also put physics in its place amongst the sciences and show how it combines an exploration of the deepest and most profound questions about life and the universe with practical applications that have transformed our lives. The book is structured chronologically, allowing readers to follow the development of scientific knowledge over more than 400 years, showing clearly how this key group of individuals has fundamentally altered our understanding of the world around us.
Dr Rhodri Evans studied Physics at Imperial College London, graduating with First Class honours, before gaining his PhD in Astrophysics from Cardiff University. He has taught at the University of Toledo in the United States, at Swarthmore College and done post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, 'the birthplace of modern astrophysics'. He is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Namibia. Rhodri is the author of numerous academic papers as well as popular-science articles, he speaks regularly at conferences and is a regular contributor to the BBC on Physics and Astronomy. His popular blog can be found at thecuriousastronomer.wordpress.com. BRIAN CLEGG is a prize-winning science writer with a physics degree from Cambridge and a masters in the mathematical discipline operational research. He has written over 20 science books and articles for newspapers and magazines from The Observer and Wall Street Journal to BBC Focus and Playboy. He lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and two children.