There was an informal gathering of physicists at Niels Bohr's facility in Denmark in 1932—a landmark year that saw the discovery of the neutron and the first artificially induced nuclear transmutation. Some 40 of the world's leading physicists, including Werner Heisenberg, Lise Meitner, and Paul Dirac, met to discuss these momentous discoveries, and entertained themselves with a humorous skit based on Goethe's Faust—a story that eerily foreshadowed events that would soon unfold as Europe moved inexorably toward totalitarianism and war.
"A theoretical physicist at the University of Pennsylvania and a nephew of Emilio Segrč, who collaborated with Fermi on radioactivity research, the author begins with the 'Faust' parody and circles back to it again and again. It acts like a magnet, reshaping the familiar into an interesting new design."—NYTimes