Best Biographies & Memoirs of Scientists in 2022

Biographies & Memoirs of Scientists

You can find biographical accounts of scientists in Biographies & Memoirs. The United States National Academy of Sciences has published these books since 1877. They provide biographies on selected members. Among them are Edward Teller, Richard Feynman, and John McMillan. We also look at the autobiographies of Werner Heisenberg and Edward Teller.

John McMillan's biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer

This highly readable biography tells the life story of the American nuclear scientist, who developed the first atomic bomb. The author traces Oppenheimer's life from childhood to the end of his career and highlights his contributions to the field. McMillan captures Oppenheimer's brash personality and frankness, which made him an interesting and compelling subject for biography.

The book starts with Oppenheimer entering Harvard to study chemistry. Then, he transitioned to physics, where he became an experimental and theoretical physicist. Oppenheimer's academic career began as a brash dolt who was mediocre at bench work. His overarching goal was to become a wise man, so he began reading poetry and English stories.

In his early years, Oppenheimer's research focused on quantum theory, but he was not a cutting-edge scientist. The "quantum revolution" was led by a group of scientists, including Heisenberg, Bohr, Born, Pauli, and Dirac. The leaders of this "quantum revolution" had previously worked in staid academic physics.

David Cassidy's portrait of Werner Heisenberg

David Cassidy's biography of Werner Heisenberg in Biographie & Memoirs of Scientists presents an enlightened and humane portrait of the man who would change the way we understand the world. Born in Wurzburg, Germany, Heisenberg was part of a middle-class family that embraced the idealistic views of their era. He studied science from a broader cultural perspective. Heisenberg's family moved to Schwabing, Germany, where he attended the Maximilian Gymnasium.

Although the atomic bomb was never built, Heisenberg was a significant theoretical physicist in the Third Reich. His contributions to the field of quantum mechanics were immense. In fact, the word 'quantum' can also be used to refer to the difficulties of interpreting Heisenberg's actions within a historical context.

In his early postwar career, Heisenberg was devoted to cosmic ray research. He directed German experimental projects, addressing a major problem in theoretical solid-state physics. He also developed a microscopic model of electron interactions and proposed the concept of an energy gap. Heisenberg also contributed to the development of quantum mechanics, and was a key player in the creation of modern particle physics.

Edward Teller's autobiography

The Edward Teller autobiography reveals the life and career of the controversial and brilliant scientist. A central figure in mid-century nuclear science, he also played a critical role in United States defense policy during the Cold War. In the book, Teller's wife, Laura Fermi, recounts her husband's life story, beginning with his childhood in a small Italian village. He taught himself the subject of physics and rose to prominence within the Italian university system at the same time as fascism was taking hold of the country. He eventually won the Nobel Prize and invented the world's first nuclear reactor.

While growing up in Hungary, Teller befriended prominent scientists. He became friends with Eugene P. Wigner, a Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1963, and Leo Szilard, the "father of the atomic bomb."

After graduating from college, Teller joined the Manhattan Project, where he made significant contributions to the development of nuclear weapons. While his work was ultimately delayed until after the Second World War, Teller remained involved in it, eventually heading a group at Los Alamos. His obsession with developing the H-bomb led to conflict with other scientists, including Hans Bethe. In his autobiography, Teller acknowledged that he had made a "white lie" in that article.

Richard Feynman's autobiography

Richard Feynman's autobiographical memoir is an interesting read. His experiences as a scientist were varied and fascinating. He was recruited to join the Manhattan Project by Robert Wilson to develop the first nuclear weapons. Those weapons ended World War II, but not before they killed tens of thousands of people. The autobiography tells of the highs and lows of his life. It also describes how he fought against prejudice to improve society.

The story of Feynman's life is fascinating, from his childhood to his career. He was a member of the Manhattan Project, safe-cracked at Los Alamos, moonlighted as an artist, and worked on the investigation of the space shuttle accident. He also had two great love affairs, gave some famous lectures, and enjoyed adventures in his free time. His autobiography is a fascinating read, and the second volume is expected to be released soon.

Feynman became fascinated with radios as a child. He took apart radios and radio sets, experimenting with voltages and frequencies. He was often paid in advance for his art. Feynman was also a gifted safe-cracking expert, and was often called upon to crack a colleague's safe. Feynman's autobiography provides a fascinating insight into the life of a scientist who made his field so popular.

Enrico Fermi's autobiography

Enrico Fermi's auto biography is a fascinating account of the life and work of the Italian physicist. His breakthroughs in nuclear physics, which changed the world forever, were largely based on his discoveries. His discoveries, including the discovery of nuclear fission, also influenced the development of the atomic bomb. This fascinating biography will inspire readers and educate them about the pioneering work of this extraordinary man.

During his student days, Fermi taught mathematical physics at the University of Florence. There, he met renowned scientists such as Albert Einstein and Hendrick Lorentz, as well as the future founder of Quantum Physics. These scientists influenced him, and he eventually shifted his focus to the study of elementary particles. In 1927, Fermi published the first paper on X-ray diffraction.

Although his early life was difficult, his passion for physics and mathematics was unbreakable. He was equally adept at theoretical as experimental work, and he remarked that he didn't sleep late enough to become a theoretical physicist. After the war, he accepted a professorship at the University of Chicago, where he would continue his research. As his wife, Laura, was a Roman Catholic, she was not Jewish. Nonetheless, she was the mother of his children, and she played an important role in their lives.

Einstein's debate with Henri Bergson

The General Theory of Relativity, a theory proposed by Albert Einstein, is based on the idea that space and time affect each other and that the speed of light changes the time conditions of observers. Bergson countered Einstein's idea of time by rediscovering the humanistic perspective and intuition. But Einstein refused to concede, and Bergson paid the price in obscurity.

During the golden age of General Relativity (GR), the debate between Einstein and Bergson was largely irrelevant. Post-Einstein GR was making accurate quantitative predictions about the behaviour of large bodies and small objects near them. And those predictions matched observations in the field with great precision. While Einstein's argument was well-received by the scientific community, Bergson's arguments remained unproven.

The debate between Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson is largely ignored by biographers. But Bergson did write about Einstein before the latter's death and occasionally wrote about the debate. The debate was never fully resolved, though Bergson's followers re-opened the discussion occasionally. It is important to remember that both men had wrong perspectives about each other. But, it was not lost on Einstein, nor did it damage his reputation.

Barres' transition from female to male

Dr. Michael Barres' transition from female to male as a scientist was an extremely public one. In a biography, he reveals the many struggles he faced as a scientist with gender discordance. He struggled with his sexual orientation and gender identity for years before transitioning. In fact, he was so ashamed of his condition that he contemplated suicide. By chance, he learned about gender changing when he was 40. He was stunned when he read about an article about a transgender man and how much awareness had grown.

Despite facing these challenges, Barres maintained a positive attitude about his identity, and found support from colleagues and friends in the scientific community. The author also felt a personal obligation to the LGBT+ community, and discussed his life openly. Barres stresses that the scientific community is inclusive and can benefit from gender diversity. The book also highlights the importance of not being afraid to express yourself and to express your opinion.

The lack of diversity in science and research can be a cause for concern. One prominent transgender scientist, Dr. David Barres, has written a thoughtful commentary in Nature magazine. In the article, he argues that the lack of women in science is not rooted in biology but instead stems from bias. In this article, Barres outlines some of the barriers women face as scientists.

Katie Edmunds

Sales Manager at TRIP. With a background in sales and marketing in the FMCG sector. A graduate from Geography from the University of Manchester with an ongoing interest in sustainable business practices.

📧Email | 📘 LinkedIn