Short works

Books : reviews

George Johnson.
Fire in the Mind: science, faith and the search for order.
Penguin. 1995

George Johnson.
Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the revolution in twentieth-century physics.
Vintage. 1999

Acclaimed science writer George Johnson brings his formidable talent to the first biography of Nobel Prize laureate Murray Gell-Mann, the brilliant, irascible man who revolutionized modern particle physics with his theories of the quark and the Eightfold Way.

Born into a family of Jewish immigrants on New York’s East 14th Street, Gell-Mann demonstrated his prodigious genius from an early age—he entered Yale at fifteen, completed his Ph.D. at twenty-one, and was soon uncovering the secrets of subatomic particles and illuminating the elegant symmetries of the universe. Before long, a favorite pastime among physicists was arguing over who was smarter, Richard Feynman or Murray Gell-Mann.

Beautifully balanced in its portrayal of an extraordinary and difficult man, explaining the ideas of advanced physics with scrupulous clarity and simplicity, Strange Beauty is a tour de force of science writing and biography.