AUTHOR: Levi, Primo and Regge, Tullio
PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press
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The renowned novelist and chronicler of the Nazi concentration camps, Primo Levi, who was also a chemist, and Tullio Regge, a leading physicist in the development of quantum mechanics, shared roots in Italy's Piedmont and a passionate interest in all things natural and human. This is a priceless record of an engaging conversation that will enlighten and amuse the reader on topics from the development of modern physics to the logic of science fiction. In the first few pages of this book the talk moves quickly from learning ancient Hebrew to feminism in the Talmud to Regge's boyhood chemistry experiments in an army pharmacy in Italy during World War II--"I set fire to everything"--and Levi's youthful fascination with science: "I hoped to go very far, to the point of possessing the universe, to understanding the why of things." Levi's and Regge's shared reactions to education in Italy--especially their belief as children in a school plot to conceal scientific knowledge--begin an intriguing and often humorous discussion ranging from the intellectual liberation of their university years, through the institution of Hitler's racial laws in fascist Italy, to scientific responsibility, the birth of the universe, and the future of humanity. Nothing escapes the authors' penetrating comments: space travel, music, computers, and the development of Levi's literary style. Of special interest are reminiscences of Oppenheimer, Wheeler, Gdel, and Heisenberg. Dialogo is published here with an introduction by Tullio Regge on Primo Levi and the background of this conversation. The conversation itself was originally conducted for radio broadcast.
PUBLICATION DATE: 12/21/1989