THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

March 2012

- Physics on the Fringe is reviewed in The New York Review of Books, by physicist Freeman Dyson from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Dyson writes:

 "Margaret Wertheim's book discusses her encounters with natural philosophers. She is interested in them as characters in a human tragedy, with the seriousness and dignity that tragedy imposes.

Dyson's poetic and sympathetic piece discusses his own encounters with two physics dissidents, Sir Arthur Eddington and Immanuel Velikovsky. Eddington, an insider for much of his life - he is the physicist who led the expedition that made the first observational verifications of general relativity - spent his later years championing a wild idea he called "Fundamental Theory." Velikovsky was always an outsider who became famous in the 1950's for a notion of cosmic history he articulated in the best-selling book Worlds in Collision. Dyson, himself one of the great physicists of the later 20th century, knew both men and comments thusly on them:

"Why do I so highly value the memory of Eddington and Velikovsky, and why does Margaret Wertheim treasure the memory of Willaim Thomson and Jim Carter? We honor them because science is only a small part of human capability. We gain knowledge of our place in the universe not only from science but also from history, art, and literature... The mythologies of Carter and Velikovsky fail to be science but they are works of high imagining."

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- This month Physics on the Fringe is also released in Australia, where it has been reviewed in the Melbourne newspaper The Age. 

"After reading this stimulating book, I might be tempted at least to open the next offbeat email or tatty envelope that comes my way," writes reviewer Peter Spink.