Fritz London

A Scientific Biography

Fritz London

Fritz London was one of the twentieth century's key figures in the development of quantum physics. A quiet and self-effacing man, he was one of the founders of quantum chemistry, and was the first to give a phenomenological explanation of superconductivity. This thoroughly researched biography gives a detailed account of London's life and work in Munich, Berlin, Oxford, Paris, and finally in the United States. Also, by following his correspondence, collaborations, and controversies with other leading physicists and chemists including Erwin Schrödinger, Walter Heitler, Linus Pauling, Robert Mulliken, John van Vleck, Max von Laue, and Lev Landau, it examines the process by which scientific theories become legitimized. Covering a fascinating period in the development of theoretical physics, and containing an appraisal of London's work by the late John Bardeen, this book will be of great interest to physicists, chemists, and to anyone interested in the history of science.


 Reviews:

"Covering a fascinating period in the development of theoretical physics, and containing an appraisal of London's work by the late John Bardeen, this book will be of great interest to physicists, chemists, and to anyone interested in the history of science." Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society

"Gavroglu has given proper attention to the physics, and has done particularly well to use it as a framework for the story of a troubled life. I am personally grateful for the full-length picture of a man from whom I learnt many things, who always had time for serious discussion and whose welcoming smile is among my happiest of memories." Sir Brian Pippard, Nature

"The book itself is a microhistory of an age of exploration into the uncharted realms of chemistry and the quantum physics of superfluidity and conductivity, something that we may not experience for decades and perhaps longer..." The Chemist

""...this is truly a scientific biography; it is not simply a history of a scholar; it is a serious discussion of London's thought, his contributions to physics and his life....As such, I found it interesting and exciting." Russell J. Donnelly, American Journal of Physics

"Gavroglu gives a fascinating account of London's peregrinations by sketching their political and social backgrounds, including the side trips to Leningrad and Rome. It is the historian's tour de force to produce such convincing background pictures with a few brush strokes....the definitive book on Fritz London's life and oeuvre...." Laszlo Tisza, Isis

"It is organized to be accessible to less scientifically sophisticated readers. It contains much that will interest readers concerned with the public and private aspects of life as talented in important areas of modern physics and chemistry...Gavroglu has successfully interwoven the details that compose the tapestry of London's short life." American Historical Review

"The book is organized to be accessible to less scientifically sophisticated readers. It contains much that will interest readers concerned with the public and private aspects of life as a scientist in the early twentieth century. london was talented in important areas of modern physics and chemistry....Gavroglu has successfully interwoven the details that compose the tapestry of London's short life." Katherine R. Sopka, American Historical Review

"Superconductors are a hot research frontier. Electric conduction with no electrical resistance and at not too low temperatures suggests vast commercial profit....The liquid has the most peculiar properties, such as the ability to creep uphill. It will not solidify under its own pressure even at 0K. By far the most important step toward understanding the[se] phenomena writes John Bardeen in an afterward to Kostas Gavroglu's Fritz London: A Scientific Biography, was the recognition by Fritz London that both superconduction and superfluid helium are macroscopic quantum systems....The book also presents a very sensitive and human account of the lives of Fritz and Edith London as they responded to the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortunes." Chemical Heritage

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