Kurt Mendelssohn

The world of Walther Nernst

The name of Walther Nernst is less well known than some of the other scientists who were part of the revolution in physics at the start of the 20th century, but the experimental and theoretical work he did was a vital part of that revolution. In this biography by Kurt Mendelssohn, who studied with Nernst for many years, we hear the story of Nernst's rise as a talented researcher in low temperature physics, followed by a prestigious (and profitable) career as a scientist in Berlin. Nernst is responsible for the 3rd law of thermodynamics, and worked with Einstein on the quantum nature of low temperature physics. The book doesn't go particularly deeply into the science, and is more suited for readers wanting a view of Nernst and the society in which he lived.

The book is subtitled 'The rise and fall of German science', and I would say that it is more a general look at science in Berlin than about Nernst in particular. Indeed Mendelssohn, a German Jew who left the country soon after the Nazi party came into power, seems to be wistful about what might have been if the country hadn't followed such disastrous paths. Firstly there was the Bismarkian rise of a Germany in which science played a central part, and a scientist such as Nernst could become an establishment figure. Then came the revolutionary science in Germany of the 1920's, in which Mendelssohn played a significant part. Thus Mendelssohn expresses his horror at the rise of the Nazi party. However, he doesn't give any deep analysis of the situation and tends to present the decision to leave the country as being a simple one to make, rather than the difficult choice that it was for many of his contemporaries.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 191 pages  
ISBN: 0822911094
Salesrank: 4494653
Weight:1.06 lbs
Published: 1973 University of Pittsburgh Press
Marketplace:New from $83.48:Used from $5.98
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 200 pages  
ISBN: 0333148959
Salesrank: 3781756
Weight:0.97 lbs
Published: 1973 Macmillan
Marketplace::Used from £6.61
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover
ISBN: 0822911094
Salesrank: 3272537
Weight:1.06 lbs
Published: 1973 Univ of Pittsburgh Pr (Trd)
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 137.97:Used from CDN$ 19.19
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Product Description
Biography of Walther Nernst, one of Germany's leading scientists, a Nobel Laureate know for his third law of thermodynamics. He was opposed to Hitler's attack on German academia. A leading thinker of his time.