Ordinary Geniuses/Gino Segre: The Pennsylvania Gazette Review

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I always feel privileged when asked to write for my alma mater (and my employer), the University of Pennsylvania.  This month I reviewed Gino Segre's new biography of George Gamow and Max Delbruck, Ordinary Geniuses, for that truly gorgeous and substantive (think of it as The New Yorker for the academic set) The Pennsylvania Gazette. The review starts like this, below.  You can find the rest here.

George Gamow and Max Delbrück were scientific wall-jumpers—intellectual border-crossers who in many ways defined the fields of cosmology and genomics. 
George, known as Geo, was Russian, a physicist by training, who would go on to be known as the father of Big Bang cosmology. Max, also a trained physicist, was a German whose curiosity would take him many places before he settled in with bacteriophages and the study of genetic replication. Geo was a renowned jokester. Max was considered Zen. Wonder framed their pursuits, and friendship bound them. In choosing to pair the two in Ordinary Geniuses, a dual biography, Gino Segre, emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at Penn, has crafted a charming and wide-ranging text that has as much to teach about 20th-century science as it does about personal sacrifice and risks.


Lilian Nattel said...

It sounds fascinating.

Lilian Nattel said...

Oh, and the distinction between extraordinary and ordinary genius--that had me nodding, yes, and I'd never thought of it before.

Serena said...

this book would probably be way over my head.

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