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Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam

John Archibald Wheeler died a few months ago. Recently comrade Dave Ward lent me his copy of Wheeler's 1998 autobiography, Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics, coauthored with Kenneth Ford. It's a slow-starting but in the end delightful book, throughout which shines Wheeler's magnanimous spirit. In a span of two pages, for instance, Wheeler refers to a succession of colleagues as "engaging", "attractive", "warm", "puckish", "beloved", "down-to-earth", and "charming". That's representative of his generous attitude.

Beyond his own life's story, Wheeler also offers self-deprecating anecdotes about the host of famous and less-famous physicists that he met and and collaborated with during his long, productive career. As he worked with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen, for instance:

... I would start talking about what I was working on, and Bohr would say, as if his mind were elsewhere, "That's beautiful" or "very interesting." (It was always necessary to "renormalize" Bohr's comments. "Beautiful" meant "probably correct, even if not significant." "Interesting" meant "not quite entirely trivial.") ...

(cf. Top Down, Bottom Up (1999-05-16), No Concepts At All (2001-01-22), John Archibald Wheeler (2008-04-15), ...) - ^z - 2008-06-25


(correlates: John Archibald Wheeler, IntellectualHeimlichManeuver, ProtoProtagonism, ...)