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A few years ago I blogged about a list in The Observer newspaper of the 10 best physicists. I felt it would be nice to write an up to date book about the greats in physics, and this list was as good as any. After enlisting the help of Brian Clegg, we set about writing a book with a chapter about each of the 10 physicists in The Observer’s list, along with a discussion in the last chapter as to whether we would choose the same 10. We agreed that nearly all physicists would include 4 names in their own list of the top 10 (buy the book to find out which 4!), but that the other 6 were much more subjective. Neither of us would have chosen the same 10 as are in this list.

"10 Physicists Who Transformed Our Understanding of the Universe" will be available in shops in early December

“10 Physicists Who Transformed Our Understanding of the Universe” will be available in shops in early December

As the back of the book says

Standing on the shoulders of giants…. 400 years of scientific breakthroughs, from Galileo to Feynman

Just to remind you, the list as presented in “The Observer” was

  1. Isaac Newton (1643-1727)
  2. Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
  3. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
  4. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  5. James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)
  6. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
  7. Marie Curie (1867-1934)
  8. Richard Feynman (1918-1988)
  9. Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
  10. Paul Dirac (1902-1984)

We quickly realised that it would not be possible to write about e.g. Niels Bohr before writing about Ernest Rutherford, as Bohr’s work was based on the model of the atom which Rutherford introduced. The same is true of many others, including Isaac Newton, whose famous laws of motion were based on work that Galileo had done.

So, we re-ordered the list into chronological order, which gives us

  1. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
  2. Isaac Newton (1643-1727)
  3. Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
  4. James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)
  5. Marie Curie (1867-1934)
  6. Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
  7. Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  8. Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
  9. Paul Dirac (1902-1984)
  10. Richard Feynman (1918-1988)
The back cover of the book

The back cover of the book

You can read more about the book by following this link, or you can pre-order your copy by following this link (this is the Amazon UK website, the book is also available in the US Amazon website by following this link)

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