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The Pope of Physics

Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age
Narrated by: Tim Campbell
Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

Enrico Fermi is unquestionably among the greats of the world's physicists, the most famous Italian scientist since Galileo. Called "the Pope" by his peers, he was regarded as infallible in his instincts and research. His discoveries changed our world; they led to weapons of mass destruction and conversely to life-saving medical interventions. This unassuming man struggled with issues relevant today, such as the threat of nuclear annihilation and the relationship of science to politics. Fleeing Fascism and anti-Semitism, Fermi became a leading figure in America's most secret project: building the atomic bomb.

The last physicist who mastered all branches of the discipline, Fermi was a rare mixture of theorist and experimentalist. His rich legacy encompasses key advances in fields as diverse as cosmic rays, nuclear technology, and early computers. In their revealing book, The Pope of Physics, Gino Segrè and Bettina Hoerlin bring this scientific visionary to life. An examination of the human dramas that touched Fermi's life as well as a thrilling history of scientific innovation in the 20th century, this is the comprehensive biography that Fermi deserves.

©2016 Gino Segrè and Bettina Hoerlin (P)2017 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Segrè and Hoerlin draw an engaging portrait of a man with boundless curiosity who delighted in his work; fans of pop science and history will thoroughly enjoy this entertaining and accessible biography of a scientist who deserves to be better understood." ( Publishers Weekly)

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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Character

An interesting book, certainly in detailing the intellectual development of the young physicist. Learning about his experimental and theoretical achievements, as well as his follies, gave me a great insight into the development of this titan of the field. It does however, deal with his personal growth too, even if in a manner I found forced at times especially when dealing with early childhood. Overall I found it a fascinating read and learned a huge amount from it, definitely will recommend it to friends.

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  • Rubio
  • 28-02-17

Excellent, but...

Seriously lacking in covering the Manhattan project. Otherwise fills a definite gap in literature about the birth of modern physics.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Philomath
  • 20-02-17

A fascinating biography of a great Physicist

The extraordinary life of Enrico Fermi like many great scientist escaping WWII is only surpassed by Fermi the great scientist.

One of the few Physicist who was both an experimentalist and a theorist and could very well be considered the brains of the Manhattan Project.

When the likes of Paul Dirac, Richard Feynman, and John Wheeler look up to someone, one must wonder who and how such a person lived his life.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Javamon86
  • 17-01-18

Not good

Just another book about the bomb. Not really focused on Fermi or, as I had hoped, his contributions to science. The book is read by someone who has practiced their gravel voice to a level of perfection bound to grate on the most forgiving ears. I have returned the book because it is crap and will always avoid the narrator regardless my interest in further books he may have read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • 12-03-17

Engaging Portrait of Fermi

This is a biography of Enrico Fermi (1901- 1954). He is Italy’s greatest scientist since Galileo. Fermi was called Pope by his peers. Fermi’s discoveries covered a broad range from semiconductors, transistors to MRI’s, nuclear reactors to the atomic bomb. He won the Nobel Prize in 1938 in physics for his work on artificial radioactivity produced by neutrons. Winning this award allowed the Fermi family to go to Stockholm, Sweden and from there they escaped to the United States. They fled Italy and its fascism and anti-Semitism just prior to World War II. Fermi’s wife was Jewish. They had two children. Fermi became a professor at Columbia University in New York City, then the University of Chicago and also worked on the Manhattan project.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Segre and Hoerlin do a great job of bringing Fermi to life in an easily readable fashion. Fermi was one of the greats in the field of physics at a time of many great men such as Lawrence, Oppenheimer and Einstein. I was most interested in the descriptions of life in Italy from 1900 to 1939. The authors did an excellent job in bringing these years to life.

The book is about ten and half hours long. Tim Campbell does a good job narratoring the book. Campbell is a voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-05-17

Beautiful!

I just loved this audiobook. Very interesting, both the science part and the story of the Popes life. Highly recomend it.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark Morris
  • 13-08-18

Too much useless detail, not enough physics

For me, this book had too much detail about trivial stuffer fluff and not enough detail about physics. I think the authors were too closely associated with Fermi, and especially his spouse, Laura.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • julio mendez
  • 24-06-17

The man behind the myth.

This was a great read; fusing Fermi's personal turmoils, world politics and the events that created the nuclear age, all connected through the Pope's resolute and steady composition.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • chemprof
  • 23-04-17

nice bipgraphy, some good physics!

really enjpyed it, got to know the great physicist, appreciate his role in neutron discovery, and neitrino!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark D. Schnittman
  • 24-09-19

Great biography of a great man

This was a surprisingly good book. The story is well written, and the narration is also high quality. Recommended.

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  • bookworm
  • 31-03-19

terrific!

loved reading this! extremely intriguing and interesting. It's a treat for every science noob to a geek