Wednesday, March 4, 2009

George Gamow...Big Bang...popular science

I almost forgot. This is George Gamow's birthdate.

The Russian/American nuclear physicist George Gamow was born Mar. 4, in Odessa, in the Ukraine. Gamow came to the United States in the 1930s. During the War, when all the American nuclear physicists were involved in the Manhattan project, Gamow worked on the problem of the cosmic origin of the elements, which he proposed to solve, in 1948, by what is now called the Big Bang theory. Today we mention that Gamow was unusual among physicists in that he wrote books on atomic physics for the general public, such as The Creation of the Universe (1952), and for young people, such as Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom (1944); moreover, he illustrated these books with his own pencil drawings, which are quite witty and charming. It is too bad that the physics in such books as The Creation of the Universe is too out of date for the general public, because the writing is extraordinarily lively, clever, and insightful. However, his history of the early years of quantum physics, Thirty Years That Shook Physics (1966; also illustrated by Gamow) can be read with profit even today, and one needs no prior knowledge of contemporary physics to appreciate and understand the story, which is quite an achievement.--Bill Ashworth, Linda Hall Library.

George Gamow

Book review-- "Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe"

Credit where credit is due--"Big Bang"

Mr. Tompkins-George Gamow

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