Freeman Dyson reviews two new books for The New York Review of Books.
I will probably never read the two books Dyson has reviewed here, but reading this article reminds me of Dyson's own books. I wish he was still writing books of his own.
The twenty years between 1909 and 1929 were the era of table-top nuclear physics. Experiments were small enough to fit onto the tops of tables. Small and simple experiments were sufficient to establish the basic laws of nuclear physics.
Rutherford was maintaining the culture of nineteenth-century gentlemen-scientists, who were supposed to pursue scholarly leisure-time activities in addition to their science.
On the morning of April 13, 1932, the era of table-top nuclear physics ended and the era of big machines and big projects began.
Seeing the Unseen