AT THE DAWN of the 20th century, the disruption in knowledge known as quantum physics transformed the way we think about energy and matter.
In a book as weighty as the topic itself, Stephen Hawking and colleagues have gathered the seminal papers from the prodigies of physics who led the revolution. Beautifully translated from the originals, these papers signpost the process whereby geniuses successively stood on each others’ shoulders to build an unparalleled edifice of inspired theories.
Despite the famous uncertainty of simultaneously knowing where a subatomic particle is and where it’s going, there is nothing but confidence in these theories. In their publications, these pioneering scientists describe the thinking and research behind their dogma-shattering conclusions. They postulate that energy is packaged in quantum bundles, that electron orbitals are quantised and that matter is mirrored by antimatter – and all are captured in this tome. This was the era that first acknowledged the pivotal role of uncertainty in science: a principle that, sadly, remains poorly understood by the general public.
Despite the excellent translations, the reproduced articles are heavy going. The attraction of this compilation is in the explanatory introductions by Hawking and Joel Allred, coupled with the sheer joy of having so much brilliance bundled between a single set of covers.