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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  43 ratings  ·  8 reviews
This is a richly absorbing autobiography by the physicist whose hydrogen bubble-chamber experiments won him the 1968 Nobel Prize in his field. Alvarez launches his "adventures" with a gripping description of his participation in (via an observation plane) the Enola Gay's historic mission over Hiroshima in 1945. Personally as well as scientifically forthright and plainspoke ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published May 12th 1987 by Basic Books (first published March 1987)
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cardulelia carduelis
Let me preface this review by saying that at this time I am employed in experimental, high energy particle physics detector based work and so much of the contents of Alvarez's detailed accounts meant something to me that the average reader might not enjoy.
However, as Alvarez himself notes, you can skip the technical details and still enjoy the anecdotes - of which there are plenty!

This is an often-times hilarious and swiftly moving account of Alvarez's career in science: I say science rather th
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
As an experimental physicist, this was pure pleasure reading... every word.

This book has great detail, and at times it felt like I had my feet kicked up in the lab talking to an old Emeratus professor telling me some story from his past. It was a delight to share this mans perspective and experience. And my god, I never realized how their vacuum chambers were held together! Copper gaskets and knife edge stainless for days in my lab, I can only imagine if we had to use their methods to keep our
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
An amazing individual that could apply himself in so many capacities, from nuclear physics and radar, to seeing inside pyramids and helping to understand how dinosaurs became extinct.
Bill Meade
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Slowly making my way across nuclear physics auto/biographies from Einstein, Rutherford, Szilliard, and Alvarez closed a gap between Rutherford and WWII. No reservations on recommending this book.
Mike Garrity
Sep 23, 2011 rated it liked it
It seems like theoretical physicists get all the press, but Luis Alvarez’s autobiography might convince you that experimental physicists have all the fun. It’s hard to think of anything that happened in the 20th century that he wasn’t in the middle of. He started out helped Lawrence build and operate some of his first cyclotrons. When the war started, he went to the rad lab at MIT to help develop radar. He was the designer of the first radar system for landing aircraft in bad weather. He left th ...more
James Christensen
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
(non-fiction) Developed GCA (ground control approach) radar for assisted landing of planes and radar for planes themselves and key components of 1st A-Bombs (watched 1st one detonated). Big into particle physics; the development of the particle accelerator cyclotron, electron linear, hydrogen bubble chamber (for which he got a Nobel Prize in 1968). Also key to the discovery of the Iridium laced clay layer at the K/T boundary which established that dinosaurs died due to asteroid impact. Very inte ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This guy's amazing accomplishments are enough for several lifetimes of success. It's one one my kicks to read local historical accounts. I read most of this book in the same Berkeley hills that he worked and played in. When he experimented with ballistics testing for Kennedy assassination it was at the San leandro shooting range. ...more
Henry Le Nav
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this a long time ago. Don't remember much other than it was a very good book, and this quote about government funded nuclear research:

"Why use lead when gold will do?"
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Luis Walter Alvarez was an American experimental physicist, inventor, and professor who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968. The American Journal of Physics commented, "Luis Alvarez was one of the most brilliant and productive experimental physicists of the twentieth century." ...more

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