Climbing the Mountain: The Scientific Biography of Julian Schwinger

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9780198527459: Climbing the Mountain: The Scientific Biography of Julian Schwinger
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This is the first biography ever written on the distinguished physicist Julian Schwinger. Schwinger was one of the most important and influential scientists of the twentieth century. The list of his contributions is staggering, from his early work leading to the Schwinger action principle, Euclidean quantum field theory, and the genesis of the standard model, to later valuable work on magnetic charge and the Casimir effect. He also shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics with Richard Feynman. However, even among physicists, understanding and recognition of his work remains limited. This book by Mehra and Milton, both of whom were personally acquainted with Schwinger, presents a unique portrait that sheds light on both his personality and his work through discussion of his lasting influence on science. Anyone who wishes to gain a deeper understanding of one of the great physicists of this century needs to read this book.

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About the Author:

Jagdish Mehra has been University Distinguished Professor of Sciences and Humanities at the University of Houston, Texas for many years and also served as U.N.E.S.C.O.-Sir Julian Huxley Distinguished Professor of Physics and The History of Science at Trieste and Paris. He has published extensively on the historical and conceptual development of modern physics and is the acclaimed biographer of 'The Beat of a Different Drum: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman'. From Spring 1959 until Schwinger's death, Mehra remained his close friend. Kimball A. Milton is Professor of Physics at the University of Oklahoma, where he leads the theoretical high-energy physics group. He has numerous publications in the field of quantum field theory. He was a student of Julian Schwinger at Harvard and was his postdoctorate associate at U.C.L.A. for nearly a decade.

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"Julian Schwinger deserves to be remembered as a great scientist for his many brilliant scientific achievements. We are very lucky to have this authentic portrait of Schwinger by Jagdish Mehra (with Kimball A. Milton), to balance Mehra's biography of Feynman [The Beat of a Different Drum, Oxford, 1994]; in it we see Schwinger as he was, a many-sided genius a human being with very great gifts."--Freeman J. Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey


"Climbing the Mountain is far more than Julian Schwinger's scientific biography. It reconstructs his times and the evolution of his thoughts, tells of his interactions with students and colleagues, and shows the enormous impact he has had on the substance, practice, and practitioners of modern physics. Every reader will concur with the sentiment of his widow: 'The world that knew him will never be the same.'"--Sheldon L. Glashow, Harvard University


"This magnificent book brilliantly recounts Schwinger's ascent up the mountain of quantum electrodynamics, and his previous and subsequent scientific career which, to a remarkable degree, defined theoretical physics for decades. Not only does this beautiful book treat Schwinger's scientific biography, but all the various aspects of his gifted life and glorious career; it is a definitive account of Julian Schwinger's life and work."--Willis E. Lamb, Jr., University of Arizona


"[T]his biography by Jagdish Mehra and Kimball Milton...is a thorough and comprehensive account of Schwinger's life and work. As the authors admit, this long book contains a great deal of mathematics that requires some sophistication to understand, although one could skim over the difficult bits....It remains....a valuable testament to the life and legacy of Julian Schwinger."--Physics World


"This book, written by Jagdish Mehra, the distinguished historian of modern physics, and Kimball Milton, one of Schwinger's last students and 'assistants'...traces Schwinger's life from his appearance as a child prodigy at Townsend Harris High School [to] his crucial role as de facto leader of the theoretical group at the Radiation Laboratory at MIT during WWII....This book was thoroughly researched. No one else either had, nor will ever again have, the opportunity of conducting such extensive, detailed and authorized taped interviews with Julian Schwinger such as Mehra had....All in all, this is a magnificent achievement, which belongs on the shelf of every student of modern science and of its history."--Physics Today


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