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Crossroads: History of Science, History of Art: Essays by David Speiser, vol. II

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Perusing the titles of the essays in this book makes it clear that its author is a man with many interests and a great curiosity. David Speiser is a lover and connoisseur of art. His view of the world is coloured by his familiarity with mathematics, that is, with “organized imagination” (his definition, see p. 49). As a historian of physics and mathematics, editor of works of Euler and the Bernoullis, he lives part-time in the eighteenth century, from which he inherited an old-world politesse.

To me – besides a warm friend and colleague – David Speiser is first and foremost a theoretical physicist who contributed decisively to our understanding of elementary particles by discovering their fundamental symmetry and its effect on their decay. He knows first-hand how fundamental research is carried out. He was also for many years the professor who introduced the students at the University of Louvain to the beauty of classical mechanics and the theory of relativity. It led him to think deeply about the foundations of these sciences and his thoughts were valued by the many colleagues who invited him to share his insights through talks he gave in several of the languages he is familiar with. The present volume presents a selection of those talks to an English-speaking public. We should be especially grateful to Mrs Williams, who made the translations and edited the texts with great competence.
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