Monday December 21st, 2009

A Brilliant Darkness by João Magueijo

magueijoIn naming João Magueijo’s A Brilliant Darkness one of the best science books of 2009, Brendan Borrell says, “[Physicist Ettore] Majorana’s story has been told many times before in Italian, but this entertaining and humorous book marks the first comprehensive treatment in English.”

According to Seed Magazine, which also named the book one of the year’s best, “On March 26, 1938, the Italian physicist [Ettore Majorana] disappeared with his passport and $70,000 in hand, leaving behind a series of bizarre suicide notes. He boarded a ferry, apparently to drown himself, but the next day, he wrote a friend, ‘The sea has rejected me…tomorrow I’ll return.’ He was never heard from again.”

At his blog Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit highly recommends the book, but says it shouldn’t be approached too seriously:

While it contains a lot of factual information, much of which I was unaware of, it’s probably best to think of it like the works of Hunter S. Thompson. Not a good place to go for authoritatively accurate information about, e.g., Las Vegas or the 1972 U.S. Presidential campaign, but a highly personal investigation that manages to get to the heart of the matter, finding emotional if not literal truth.

A Brilliant Darkness: The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Ettore Majorana, the Troubled Genius of the Nuclear Age by João Magueijo
Basic Books, 304 pp., $27.50