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Maxwell’s Equations

Nevill Mott, 19 November 1981

James Clerk Maxwell: A Biography 
by Ivan Tolstoy.
Canongate, 184 pp., £9.95, July 1981, 9780862410100
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... James Clerk Maxwell was born in 1831. He held chairs at Aberdeen and London and was the first head of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. He died at the early age of 48, leaving behind, as well as much other first-rate work in physics, something quite epoch-making, ‘Maxwell’s equations’, which predicted clearly that electromagnetic waves could exist, and that light was of this nature ...

Fear and Loathing in Los Alamos

John Ziman, 4 September 1986

Bird of Passage: Recollections of a Physicist 
by Rudolf Peierls.
Princeton, 350 pp., £21.20, January 1986, 0 691 08390 8
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A Life in Science 
by Nevill Mott.
Taylor and Francis, 198 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 85066 333 4
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Stallion Gate 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins Harvill, 287 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 00 222727 4
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Day of the Bomb: Hiroshima 1945 
by Dan Kurzman.
Weidenfeld, 546 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 297 78862 0
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Assessing the Nuclear Age 
edited by Len Ackland and Steven McGuire.
Chicago, 382 pp., £21.25, July 1986, 0 941682 07 2
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... Landau died before reaching the age of reminiscence, but Rudolph Peierls was his friend and Nevill Mott was another near-contemporary. Now that they are both about eighty, they may feel able to risk his posthumous scorn. Mott is a sort of father-in-science to me, and Peierls an uncle. Yet it never occurred to ...

Singing the Blues

Noël Annan, 22 April 1993

A History of Cambridge University. Vol. IV: 1870-1990 
by Christopher Brooke.
Cambridge, 652 pp., £50, December 1992, 9780521343503
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... are the colleges like today? Did Snow give an accurate account of Christ’s? What about the way Nevill Mott was treated as master of Caius that led to his resignation? What of the delectable days of Lord Dacre in the Lodge at Peterhouse? Surely space could have been found to praise the leadership Trinity gave to science by using her great wealth to ...

Spying made easy

M.F. Perutz, 25 June 1987

Klaus Fuchs: The man who stole the atom bomb 
by Norman Moss.
Grafton, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 246 13158 6
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... meeting in Paris. From Paris he went to England, where he became a research student in Nevill Mott’s great school of theoretical physics at Bristol; after this he worked at Edinburgh with the German physicist Max Born, who was one of the founders of wave mechanics. In the spring of 1940 Fuchs was arrested, interned and later deported to ...

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