Now in paperback: The epic story of how, amid two World Wars, history’s greatest physicists redefined reality—and ignited the atomic age
“A new, exciting approach to the literature about this momentous era.”—The Wall Street Journal
There may never be another era of science like the first half of the twentieth century, when a peerless cast of physicists—Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Max Planck, Wolfgang Pauli, and others—came together to uncover the quantum world, a concept so outrageous and contrary to traditional physics that its own founders rebelled against it until the equations held up and fundamentally changed our understanding of reality.
In page-turning chapters, Tobias Hürter takes us back to this momentous time in science history, when the creation of quantum theory demanded the combined efforts of friends and rivals, lovers and loners, straight-edged intellectuals and freethinking dreamers—and when, with the Nazis in pursuit of an atomic bomb, the stakes couldn’t be higher. In this stirring, grand narrative, brought to life by letters, notes, research papers, diaries, and memoirs, we witness the birth of an idea that revolutionized both physics and our world at large and unleashed the profound and terrifying power of the atom—and that ultimately stands as a testament to the boundless potential of genius in collaboration.
About the Author
Tobias Hürter studied mathematics and philosophy in Munich and Berkeley. He has written about science and philosophy for magazines and newspapers since 2000, including as an editor at MIT Technology Review and as cofounder of the philosophy magazine Hohe Luft. Now a permanent freelance editor at Die Zeit Magazin Wissen, he lives in Munich.
Praise for Too Big for a Single Mind: How the Greatest Generation of Physicists Uncovered the Quantum World
2022 Foreword INDIES Silver Winner
"Intriguing and well-written. . . . Too Big for a Single Mind cleverly interweaves the stories of the leading early 20th-century physicists with the political and personal events that shaped their lives. . . . Hürter’s formidable grasp of the great period of quantum discovery represents a new, exciting approach to the literature about this momentous era.
— The Wall Street Journal
Hürter guides us through the time when physicists developed their fundamental theories.
— Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Too Big for a Single Mind by Tobias Hürter highlights the work of Marie Curie, Max Planck, Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Ernst Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, and others did together to shake up physics and introduce quantum mechanics, arguing that the field’s discovery was a collaborative effort.
— Publishers Weekly