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What’s the hurry?

Ed Regis, 24 June 1993

Dreams of a Final Theory 
by Steven Weinberg.
Radius, 260 pp., £16.99, January 1993, 0 09 177395 4
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... Until roughly the 20th century, physics was concerned with the realities of ordinary experience: light, heat and sound; motion, acceleration, falling bodies; gases, fluids, solids; electricity, magnetism and so on and so forth through the world of phenomena. Then in 1895, Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays; in 1897, J.J. Thompson discovered the electron; in 1914, Rutherford discovered the proton – and all at once a new branch of physics had come into existence: elementary particle theory, dealing with the hidden realities, the fundamental entities that underlie the observed phenomena of everyday life ...

Swami

Ed Regis, 26 May 1994

The Beat of a Different Drum: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman 
by Jagdish Mehra.
Oxford, 630 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 19 853948 7
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... Richard Feynman was the world’s number-one physicist (after Einstein), a well-known genius, a self-described ‘curious character’ who was involved in some of the formative events of 20th-century science: the Manhattan Project, quantum mechanics, the birth of quantum electrodynamics. Feynman’s mind roamed over every conceivable branch of Science ...
Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend 
Chicago, 192 pp., £18.25, June 1995, 0 226 24531 4Show More
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... Never before has so much been known about the world, and the time has long passed – if it ever existed – when one person could collect it all in a single consciousness. Science is the paradigmatic case of the accumulation of knowledge: it has given us knowledge in the truest, most certain and genuine sense, and has been fabulously successful at it ...

Thinking big

Peter Campbell, 26 September 1991

Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition 
by Ed Regis.
Viking, 308 pp., £16.99, September 1991, 0 670 83855 1
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... a check on what is possible. So Newton, who dabbled in alchemy, would understand the characters in Ed Regis’s history of fin-de-siècle scientific hubris – subtitled ‘Science Slightly over the Edge’, it tells stories, mainly from the Seventies and Eighties, of some of the wilder projects of scientists, engineers and DIY enthusiasts. Once you start ...

Thinking

Peter Campbell, 4 August 1988

Who got Einstein’s office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study 
by Ed Regis.
Simon and Schuster, 316 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 671 69923 7
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Chaos 
by James Gleick.
Heinemann, 354 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 9780434295548
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The School of Genius 
by Anthony Storr.
Deutsch, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 233 98010 5
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... Here was the Sane Scientist – the heir of Benjamin Franklin. Feynman appears several times in Ed Regis’s wonderful book about the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (the members of which often appear in the Mad Scientist mode) as an advocate of worldly engagement. His words head an epilogue which asks difficult questions about the ...

The Vulgarity of Success

Murray Sayle: Everest and Empire, 7 May 1998

Eric Shipton: Everest and Beyond 
by Peter Steele.
Constable, 290 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 09 478300 4
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... Waterdine and a Knight of the Garter) was on secondment from the British Army. On descending, Ed Hillary, as he is universally known, shouted to his fellow New Zealander George Lowe, another climber of great renown: ‘George, we knocked the bastard off.’ Some sensitive critics have detected in the seeming contrast between Mallory’s gnostic ‘because ...

Unhappy Yemen

Tariq Ali: In Yemen, 25 March 2010

... give it up after the First World War. Under the benign gaze of the British, the imams of the Hamid-ed-Din family took back control of the North. In 1948 the ruler, Yahya Muhammad, was assassinated by one of his bodyguards and his son Ahmad, a fierce isolationist, took over. For him the choice was simple: his country could be dependent and rich or poor but ...

On Complaining

Elif Batuman: How to Stay Sane, 20 November 2008

Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida 
by Elisabeth Roudinesco, translated by William McCuaig.
Columbia, 184 pp., £15.50, November 2008, 978 0 231 14300 4
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... Althusser’s wife to the USSR: ‘well before the thaw in Russia … this philosopher … twist[ed] the neck of the very soviet union in which he was confined with his wife.’ Jean Allouch, another anti-Althussard, took the fact that Althusser used to refer to Hélène as an appareil idéologique de l’état (AIE) and that ‘aïe!’ was the very ...

That was the year that was

Tariq Ali, 24 May 2018

... here we’re completely paralysed.’ And then, soon after the Labour Party lost the election and Ed Miliband resigned there was a fight for the succession, with most of the candidates offering more of the same. The Labour left under New Labour is often allowed a token candidate. This time the token won.Well, it was Corbyn’s turn, wasn’t it? He ...

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