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Book Reviews of The Strangest Man

September 12, 2009

Notice this book, “THE STRANGEST MAN – The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom”, in New York Times’s Science section. The opening lines of this book review, “Quantum Leap“, are intriguing:

This biography is a gift. It is both wonderfully written (certainly not a given in the category Accessible Biographies of Mathematical Physicists) and a thought-provoking meditation on human achievement, limitations and the relations between the two.

Is that good? Hmm..

So, I did a little bit search and found out already quite a few book reviews over the net. For example:

The British edition was published earlier than the US one, in Jan. 2009. This book is in Guardian book award’s longlist. Not bad for a science biography book, right?

It also receives pretty good rating in Amazon.uk. What interests me is the 2-star review (the only one at this moment). I understand what the reviewer wanted but it is really difficult (not that it’s impossible) to understand the concepts like “renormalization” without going into some equations and formulas (see the 3rd comment).

This isn’t saying that physicists are the suckers of equations. In fact they always appreciate some simple physical pictures over those complex equations. However, that has some limit. You must have some basic understandings; otherwise these pictures may mean little to you.

I’m going to recommend this book to the library and see whether we can have it here.

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