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JIM BAGGOTT was born in Southampton, England, in 1957. He graduated in chemistry from the University of Manchester in 1978. After completing his doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Oxford, he worked as a postgraduate research fellow at Oxford and at Stanford University in California. He has been studying and writing about science, philosophy and science history for nearly 20 years, and has won awards for both scientific research and science writing. His widely acclaimed books include THE QUANTUM STORY, A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO REALITY and BEYOND MEASURE: Modern Physics, Philosophy, and the Meaning of Quantum Theory.

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FAREWELL TO REALITY

How Fairy-Tale Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth

 

Certain to broaden and intensify the debate over what counts as science – Bryce Christensen, starred review, BOOKLIST

 

A good story, often told, but rarely as gracefully as it is here... In all of this, there's uncommon respect for the lay reader – David Kordahl, LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

 

In consistently accessible and intelligent prose, Baggott sympathetically captures the frustrations of physicists while laying out a provocative – and very convincing – plea for a reality check in a field that he feels is now too ‘meta’ for its own good – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

 

His fierce and refreshing polemic does a fine job of helping readers understand some of the knottiest ideas in contemporary physics. This is all the more remarkable as he eschews analogies, arguing that they tend to confuse rather than illuminate the counterintuitive ideas and phenomena he describes – THE ECONOMIST

 

Stephen Hawking recently remarked, 'There is no heaven; it's a fairy story'. But might the same be said of modern theoretical physics?

 

In FAREWELL TO REALITY, Jim Baggott argues that although we know a lot more about the nature of reality, there is a sense in which we understand less. So far there is no observational or experimental evidence for many of the ideas of modern theoretical physics such as super-symmetric particles, superstrings, the multiverse, the holographic principle or the anthropic cosmological principle. For some of the wilder speculations of theorists such as Hawking there can by definition never be any such evidence. This stuff is not only not true, it is not even science. It is fairy-tale physics: fantastical, bizarre and often outrageous – borderline confidence-trickery, even, claims Baggott. 

 

This book provides a much-needed antidote. Informed, comprehensive and balanced, it offers lay readers an up-to-date summary of the latest thinking about the nature of physical reality while clearly distinguishing between fact and fantasy. With its engaging portraits of many central figures of modern physics, including Paul Davies, John Barrow, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Leonard Susskind and other 'high priests of fairy-tale physics', this is a book that promises to be essential reading for all readers interested in what we do and don't know about the Universe – whether they are inside or outside science.

 

Publisher: Constable (UK)/Pegasus (US)

Publication Date: 16 May 2013 (UK)/August 2013 (US)

Length: 352 pages

 

All rights available excluding:

UK & Commonwealth, US, Poland (Proszysnki)

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ATOMIC
The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb, 1939-1949

 

While writing my 20th-century histories… I read everything on [the atomic bomb] I could lay my hands on, but I never read such a good, comprehensive account as Jim Baggott’s… Highly recommended – A. N. Wilson, READER’S DIGEST

 

World War II changed many things and not the least among them was the relationship of science to the military. Readers interested in this important historic transformation will find Jim Baggott's engaging history replete with drama and insight - Martin J. Sherwin, co-author of AMERICAN PROMETHEUS: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

 

This is a very good book. I particularly like the way Baggott has been able to weave the science, 'grand-scale' politics and espionage together into one compelling narrative - Mark Walker, author of GERMAN NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND THE QUEST FOR NUCLEAR POWER

 

As readers will recognize while pondering a conclusion outlining the global implications of the 2002 Moscow Treat on nuclear disarmament, we still live in the shadow of the events chronicled so vividly here - starred review, BOOKLIST

The first fully realized popular account of the race between Nazi Germany, Britain, America and the Soviet Union to build atomic weapons. 

 

Rich in personality, action, confrontation and deception, ATOMIC is the first fully realized popular account of the race between Nazi Germany, Britain, America and the Soviet Union to build atomic weapons. These were weapons that ended the Second World War and framed the early Cold War between the superpowers.

The book draws on declassified material such as MI6's Farm Hall transcripts, coded Soviet messages cracked by American cryptographers in the Venona project and interpretations by Russian scholars of documents from the Soviet archives. Jim Baggott weaves these threads into a monumental book that spans ten historic years, from the discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 to 'Joe-1', the first Soviet atomic bomb test in August 1949. It includes dramatic episodes such as the sabotage of the Vemork heavy-water plant by Norwegian commandos and the infamous meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, the subject of Michael Frayn's stage play 'Copenhagen'. Baggott also tells of how Allied scientists were directly involved in the hunt for their German counterparts in war-torn Europe following D-Day, and brings to light the reactions of captured German scientists on hearing of the Allied success at Hiroshima.

Why did physicists persist in developing the atomic bomb, despite the devastation that it could bring? Why, despite having a clear head start, did Hitler's physicists fail? To what extent did the Soviet atomic programme rely on intelligence gathered by spies such as Klaus Fuchs, Theodore Hall, David Greenglass and the Rosenbergs? Did the Allies really plot to assassinate a key member of the German bomb programme? Did the physicists  knowingly inspire the arms race? The book answers these and many other questions.

Atomic is an epic story of science and technology at the very limits of human understanding; a tale barely believable as fiction, which just happens to be historical fact.

 

Publisher: Icon (UK)/Pegasus (US)

Pub Date: 5 March 2009 (UK)/13 April 2010 (US)

Length: 576 pages

 

All rights available excluding:

UK & Commonwealth, US, Israel (Books in the Attic/Miskal), Russia (Eksmo).

 

*Published in the US as THE FIRST WAR OF PHYSICS: The Secret History of the Atom Bomb

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