A Brilliant Darkness: The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Ettore Majorana, the Troubled Genius of the Nuclear Age
"A theoretical physicist reveals one of the greatest untold stories of 20th-century science: the tormented genius, who discovered a key element of atomic fission, then disappeared and was never seen again. On the night of March 26th, 1938, nuclear physicist Ettore Majorana boarded a ship in Palermo, cash and a passport in hand. He was never seen again. "A Brilliant Darkness" tells the story of Majorana and his research group, nicknamed 'the Via Panisperna Boys', who unknowingly discovered atomic fission in 1934. As Majorana, the most brilliant of the group, began to realize what they had found, he became increasingly troubled, and his mental state, never terribly healthy, became unstable. Did he commit suicide that night in Palermo? Was he kidnapped? Did he stage his own death? As author Joao Magueijo narrates Majorana's tragic life and bizarre disappearance, he also offers a surprising look at the dark underbelly of science-not only its ethical difficulties but its often complex group dynamics. The momentum generated by the Via Panisperna Boys is the type that takes science in unpredictable directions: it can lead to grossly amoral errors such as eugenics, breakthroughs such as the discovery of the structure of DNA, or highly attractive dead ends such as string theory. The atomic bomb is just one of many troubling results of this dynamic. This gripping story not only chronicles Majorana's invaluable discovery - the Majorana neutrino - but also reveals new clues about one of science's most alluring mysteries. "
Time to make your Christmas wishlist :-)