The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom (Hardback)
  • The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom (Hardback)
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The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom (Hardback)

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Hardback 560 Pages / Published: 04/08/2009
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Paul Dirac was among the great scientific geniuses of the modern age. One of the discoverers of quantum mechanics, the most revolutionary theory of the past century, his contributions had a unique insight, eloquence, clarity, and mathematical power. His prediction of antimatter was one of the greatest triumphs in the history of physics. One of Einsteins most admired colleagues, Dirac was in 1933 the youngest theoretician ever to win the Nobel Prize in physics. Diracs personality is legendary. He was an extraordinarily reserved loner, relentlessly literal-minded and appeared to have no empathy with most people. Yet he was a family man and was intensely loyal to his friends. His tastes in the arts ranged from Beethoven to Cher, from Rembrandt to Mickey Mouse. Based on previously undiscovered archives, The Strangest Man reveals the many facets of Diracs brilliantly original mind. A compelling human story, The Strangest Man also depicts a spectacularly exciting era in scientific history.

Publisher: INGRAM PUBLISHER SERVICES US
ISBN: 9780465018277
Number of pages: 560
Weight: 794 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 46 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Kirkus" *Starred Review*
"Paul Dirac was a giant of 20th-century physics, and this rich, satisfying biography does him justice.... [A] nuanced portrayal of an introverted eccentric who held his own in a small clique of revolutionary scientific geniuses."

Peter Higgs, "Times (UK)"
"Fascinating reading... Graham Farmelo has done a splendid job of portraying Dirac and his world. The biography is a major achievement."

"Telegraph"
"If Newton was the Shakespeare of British physics, Dirac was its Milton, the most fascinating and enigmatic of all our great scientists. And he now has a biography to match his talents: a wonderful book by Graham Farmelo. The story it tells is moving, sometimes comic, sometimes infinitely sad, and goes to the roots of what we mean by truth in science."

"New Statesman"
"A marvelously rich and intimate study."

"Sunday Herald"
"Farmelo's splendid biography has enough scientific exposition for the biggest science fan and enough human interest for the rest of us. It creates a picture of a man who was a great theoretical scientist but also an awkward but oddly endearing human being.... This is a fine book: a fitting tribute to a significant and intriguing scientific figure."

"The Economist"
"[A] sympathetic portrait....Of the small group of young men who developed quantum mechanics and revolutionized physics almost a century ago, he truly stands out. Paul Dirac was a strange man in a strange world. This biography, long overdue, is most welcome."

"Times Higher Education Supplement (UK)"
"A page-turner about Dirac and quantum physics seems a contradiction in terms, but Graham Farmelo's new book, "The Strangest Man," is an eminently readable account of the developments in physics throughout the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and the life of one of the discipline's key scientists."

"New Scientist"
"Enthralling... Regardless of whether Dirac was autistic or simply unpleasant, he is an icon of modern thought and F


American Scientist
"[A] highly readable and sympathetic biography of the taciturn British physicist who can be said, with little exaggeration, to have invented modern theoretical physics. The book is a real achievement, alternately gripping and illuminating."
Natural History
"Farmelo's eloquent and empathetic examination of Dirac's life raises this book above the level of workmanlike popularization. Using personal interviews, scientific archives, and newly released documents and letters, he's managed - as much as anyone could - to dispel the impression of the physicist as a real-life Mr. Spock, the half Vulcan of Star Trek."
Science
"[A] consummate and seamless biography.... Farmelo has succeeded masterfully in the difficult genre of writing a great scientist's life for a general audience."
Physics Today
"[An] excellent biography of a hero of physics.... [I]n The Strangest Man, we are treated to a fascinating, thoroughly researched, and well-written account of one of the most important figures of modern physics."

Kirkus *Starred Review*
"Paul Dirac was a giant of 20th-century physics, and this rich, satisfying biography does him justice.... [A] nuanced portrayal of an introverted eccentric who held his own in a small clique of revolutionary scientific geniuses."
Library Journal
"Farmelo did not pick the easiest biography to write - its subject lived a largely solitary life in deep thought. But Dirac was also beset with tragedy... and in that respect, the author proposes some novel insights into what shaped the man. This would be a strong addition to a bibliography of magnificent 20th-century physicist biographies, including Walter Issacson's Einstein, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin's American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and James Gleick's Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman."
American Journal of Physics
"[A] very moving biography.... It would have been easy to simply fill the biography with Dirac stories of which there is a cornucopia, many of which are actually true. But Farmelo does much more than that. He has met and spoken with people who knew Dirac including the surviving members of his family. He has been to where Dirac lived and worked and he understands the physics. What has emerged is a 558 page biography, which is a model of the genre. Dirac was so private and emotionally self-contained that one wonders if anyone really knew him. Farmelo's book is as close as we are likely to come."

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Reviews

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“Strangely fascinating...”

Paul Dirac was one of the leading lights in the development of Quantum Mechanics, and one of the most brilliant scientists this country has ever produced. He was also socially awkward and a very private and enigmatic... More

Paperback edition
26th January 2010
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