In this new account of Franklin's early life, Pulitzer finalist Nick Bunker portrays him as a complex, driven young man who elbows his way to success.
From his early career as a printer and journalist to his scientific work and his role as a founder of a new republic, Benjamin Franklin has always seemed the inevitable embodiment of American ingenuity. But in his youth he had to make his way through a harsh colonial world, where he fought many battles with his rivals, but also with his wayward emotions. Taking Franklin to the age of forty-one, when he made his first electrical discoveries, Bunker goes behind the legend to reveal the sources of his passion for knowledge. Always trying to balance virtue against ambition, Franklin emerges as a brilliant but flawed human being, made from the conflicts of an age of slavery as well as reason. With archival material from both sides of the Atlantic, we see Franklin in Boston, London, and Philadelphia as he develops his formula for greatness. A tale of science, politics, war, and religion, this is also a story about Franklin's forebears: the talented family of English craftsmen who produced America's favorite genius.
Brought up in a poor suburb of the Bronx, the young Millie Dresselhaus went to some of the worst schools in New York City. "Things weren't looking to well for me, I was born in the depression - we were one of the many families on welfare". One of the positive things that happened to her was music. As a very young child, Millie received a music scholarship to attend a music school in a settlement house in Greenwich Village, New York. Through that experience she met middle class America - an echelon of society she didn't have any contact with otherwise. She quickly saw that what she was getting in her neighborhood wasn't what "luckier" children were receiving. She decided to switch to a better school, and at the age of 13 enrolled in Hunter College High School for girls.
Her entire biography@ Physics Central.
Descartes's mysterious frontal lobe.
René Descartes began with doubt. “We cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt. … I think, therefore I am,” the 17th century philosopher and scientist famously wrote. Now, modern scientists are trying to figure out what made the genius’s mind tick by reconstructing his brain. Scientists have long wondered whether the brains of geniuses (especially the shapes on their surfaces) could hold clues about their owners’ outsized intelligences. But most brains studied to date—including Albert Einstein’s—were actual brains.
Descartes’s had unfortunately decomposed by the time scientists wanted to study it. So with techniques normally used for studying prehistoric humans, researchers created a 3D image of Descartes’s brain (above) by scanning the impression it left on the inside of his skull, which has been kept for almost 200 years now in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
For the most part, his brain was surprisingly normal—its overall dimensions fell within regular ranges, compared with 102 other modern humans. But one part stood out: an unusual bulge in the frontal cortex, in an area which previous studies have suggested may process the meaning of words. That’s not to say this oddity is necessarily indicative of genius, the scientists report online in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences. Even Descartes might agree: “It is not enough to have a good mind,” he wrote. “The main thing is to use it well.”
A Problem From Hell: Russian G.U.L.A.G & the Extermination of Jewish Nuclear Intellectuals After Red October 1917
This book tells captivating stories of misadventures of two renowned theoretical physicists in the Soviet Union.
The first part is devoted to Friedrich (Fritz) Houtermans, an outstanding Dutch–Austrian–German physicist who was the first to suggest that the source of stars' energy is thermonuclear fusion, and also made a number of other important contributions to cosmo-chemistry and geochemistry.
In 1935, Houtermans, a German communist, in an attempt to save his life from Hilter's Gestapo, fled to the Soviet Union. He took up an appointment at the Kharkov Physico-Technical Institute, working there for two years with the Russian physicist Valentin P Fomin.
In the Great Purge of 1937, Houtermans was arrested in December by the NKVD (Soviet Secret Police, KGB's predecessor). He was tortured, and confessed to being a Trotskyist plotter and German spy, out of fear of threats against his wife Charlotte. However, Charlotte had already escaped from the Soviet Union to Denmark, after which she went to England and finally the USA. As a result of the Hilter–Stalin Pact of 1939, Houtermans was turned over to the Gestapo in May 1940 and imprisoned in Berlin.
The second part consists of two essays that narrate the life story of Yuri Golfand, one of the co-discoverers of supersymmetry, a major discovery in theoretical physics in the 20th century. In 1973, just two years after the publication of his seminal paper, he was fired from the Lebedev Physics Institute in Moscow. Because of his Jewish origin he could find no job. Under such circumstances, he applied for an exit visa to Israel, but his application was denied. Yuri Golfand became a refusnik and joined the Human rights movement, along with two other prominent physicists, Andrei Sakharov and Yuri Orlov.
To earn his living, he had to do manual work, repeatedly being intimidated by KGB. Only 18 years later, shortly before the demise of the Soviet Union, did he obtain permission to leave the country, emigrating to Israel in 1990.
These personal life stories of two outstanding theorists are intertwined with the tragedies of the 20th century and make for compelling reading.
Book excerpt on physical, psychological torture given to GULAG inmates to break them into false confessions, consequently the excerpt below led to the discovery of plutonium:
"I entered the cell which contained a single piece of furniture a wooden bunk-bed. Immediately I was shocked. On the top bed laid a corpse. The man’s face was grey and the skin was so thin that one could see every bone under it. I was terrified. “Is it possible that they’ve become so cruel? That the degree of their mockery has reached the point of putting the dead and the living together?” That was my first thought after I saw his face.
After a while he opened his eyes. He stared at me with a look of expectation, hopeful I would bring him all kinds of news, which he needed so desperately.
“Are you new? I can tell by the way you walk, you move and you look,” he said in his broken Russian. He lifted himself up and offered his thin hand for a handshake. “My name is Fritz Houtermans, a German…a physicist…a former member of the communist party…former emigrant from Nazi Germany…former professor at the Institute of Physics in Kharkov…former human being—and who are you?”
He kept himself sane by doing number theory in his head. He found a proof that the equation a3+b3=c3 has no solution for non-vanishing integers. This is not trivial. The great eighteenth-century mathematician Leonhard Euler found a proof that was somewhat faulty. Houtermans describes his attempt.
First he tried to use matches to write on soap, but that did not work. He writes:
When I found on August 6th an elementary proof for Fermat’s famous problem for n=3, which I have learned since is essentially the same as Euler’s, by “descent infinite,” I got very excited about it, because I did not know Euler’s elementary proof to exist, and I applied to the People’s Commissar of the Ukraine to get paper and pencil. (I said I wanted to work out an idea of mine on a method of radioactivity which might be of economic importance.)
When my petition was not granted, I went on a hunger strike (only declining food, not water). I was alone in the cell then and succeeded in getting pencil and paper after 8 days of hunger strike, by which time I was very much weakened since I had been in a bad state when I started. I wrote a number of theorems."
Fritz's wife would escape to the United States and teach physics at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie New York. She died in 1993.
His companion Andrei Sakharov won the Nobel Peace Prize, his acceptance speech here.
China, the United States, and 21st-Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Security Partnership. by Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein
China's rise on the world's oceans is attracting wide attention and may ultimately restructure the global balance of power during the course of the 21st century. Many books have described this phenomenon and the significant strategic implications that flow from Beijing's rapid maritime development. However, the subject of whether and how to potentially integrate a stronger China into a global maritime security partnership has not been adequately explored.
Delving into a variety of vital domains of contemporary maritime security, American and Chinese contributors to this edited volume illustrate that despite recent turbulence in U.S.-China military relations, substantial shared interests should enable extensive maritime security cooperation, as the two maritime great powers attempt to reach an understanding of "competitive coexistence."
China's reaction to the United States' new maritime strategy, for instance, will significantly impact its success. Based on the premise that preventing wars is as important as winning wars, this new U.S. strategy embodies a historic reassessment of the international system and how the United States can best pursue its interests in cooperation with other nations. But for professionals to structure cooperation effectively, they warn, Washington and Beijing must create sufficient political and institutional space.
This is the fourth book in the series "Studies in Chinese Maritime Development" published jointly by the China Maritime Studies Institute and the Naval Institute Press.