Faust in Copenhagen: the struggle for the soul of physics

 Faust in Copenhagen centres on the lives and careers of seven physicists. Six of them - Niels Bohr, Paul Ehrenfest, Lise Meitner, Wolfang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg and Paul Dirac - had been sitting in the front row at the Copenhagen meeting, and were already in the pantheon of physics greats. The seventh, Max Delbruck, was the author of a skit concluding the meeting, in which the junior physicists poked fun at their elders.

As a version of Goethe's Faust , adapted to embrace the complexities of contemporary physics, the skit eerily foreshadows many events that unfolded in subsequent years. Indeed it touched upon the very soul of science: a Faustian struggle between good and evil, between peaceful uses of scientific discovery and destructive ones and on the interface of the political and scientific worlds.

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Author(s)Gino Segre
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Shelf referenceA 530.092 SEG
Direct URLhttps://www.stem.org.uk/x8852

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