Leon Rosenfeld: Physics, Philosophy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century

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9789814307819: Leon Rosenfeld: Physics, Philosophy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century
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Léon Rosenfeld (1904-1974) was a remarkable, many-sided physicist of exceptional erudition. He was at the center of modern physics and was well-known as Niels Bohr's close collaborator and spokesman. Besides he reflected deeply on the history and philosophy of science and its social role from a leftist perspective. As both actor and acute spectator of modern physics and as a polyglot cosmopolitan whose life crossed those of many important people in both the East and West, as well as by virtue of his close collaboration and friendship with Bohr, Rosenfeld was an important figure in twentieth century physics. His biography illuminates the development, popularization, and reception of quantum physics and its interpretation in addition to the development of the political Left. The book draws extensively from previously untapped, unpublished sources in more than five languages.

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This book is a social-intellectual biography of the Belgian physicist Léon Rosenfeld (1904–1974). Rosenfeld was at the center of modern theoretical physics and he became the Danish physicist Niels Bohr's right-hand man. Rosenfeld was a perceptive, polyglot cosmopolitan, whose life crossed those of many important people in many countries. He was also a strong integrated personality capable of performing exotic calculations at one moment, while disentangling subtle philosophical questions or intervening in a political discussion the next — all at the highest level. This book aims at a broad audience interested in contextual history of twentieth century physics. No specialized knowledge of physics is required to read it.

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Jacobsen does provide a detailed chronology of Rosenfeld's interactions with scores of others over his entire career. With extensive references to correspondence/published works, this book will be a good basis to probe both the person and his unique philosophical stance. -- CHOICE "CHOICE"

To understand quantum mechanics also means to understand the history of the first part of the 20th century: this is probably one of the main legacies, among others, of the life of L on Rosenfeld. -- CERN Courier "CERN Courier"

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