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A Brilliant Darkness: The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disapperance of Ettore Majorana, the Troubled Genius of the Nuclear Age

Joao Magueijo.
Publisher Basic Books  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780465009039
Pages/Publication Date 280/2009
Daedalus Item Code 23465
This item is not available.
On March 26, 1938, Italian nuclear physicist Ettore Majorana boarded a ship in Palermo, cash and passport in hand, and was never seen again. Theoretical physicist João Magueijo—the author of Faster Than the Speed of Light—tells the story of Majorana and his research team "the Via Panisperna Boys," who discovered atomic fission in 1934. As the brilliant Majorana began to realize the implications of what they had found, he became increasingly unstable. Did he commit suicide? Was he kidnapped? Did he stage his own death? Magueijo chronicles Majorana's invaluable contributions to science—including his major discovery, the Majorana neutrino—while revealing the truth behind his fascinating and tragic life.

"No 20th-century scientist deserved the Nobel Prize more than the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana. So argues Magueijo, who nonetheless admits that the Nobel selection committee faced an insuperable obstacle in considering Majorana: only the living are eligible for the prize, and after March 26, 1938, no one knew whether Majorana was alive or dead.... Unraveling the mysteries left in the wake of that departing ship, Magueijo delves deep into the subatomic theories developed by the enigmatic genius, theories so advanced that they dazzled Majorana's mentor, Enrico Fermi, and have continued to mesmerize scientists ever since. For the benefit of nonspecialists, Magueijo explains these scientific theories in mercifully simple terms. But what simple terms can illuminate a tortured and unstable personality, vulnerable to bouts of depression and prone to antisocial reclusiveness? The complexities of that personality resist assimilation into any of the standard explanations—suicide, kidnapping, flight, monastic retreat—for Majorana's disappearance. But astounded readers will thank Magueijo for his daring venture into the science and the psyche of a perplexing figure."—Booklist (starred review)

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