BOOKS

 

RUSSIAN JOURNEY

by William O. Douglas

Doubleday & Company, N.Y. $4.50

 

The Caltech community got a preview of this book when justice Douglas visited the campus in February, on the YMCA's Leaders of America program.  Now, here is the complete account of Douglas's trip to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1955, which pretty much took him from one end of the country to the other.  As a report on Russia, and as a travel book, it's in a class by itself.

 

 

I AM A MATHEMATICIAN

by Norbert Wiener

Doubleday & Co., N.Y.  $5.00

 

Reviewed by F. Bohnenblust

Professor of Mathematics

 

Dr. Norbert Wiener is outstanding among contemporary mathematicians.  He is, perhaps, most widely known for his book on Cybernetics, but his contributions to modern mathematics have opened many other new fields of investigations.  I Am a Mathematician is the second volume of Wiener's autobiography the first volume, Ex‑Prodigy, having appeared in 1953.  In Ex‑Prodigy the problems of his childhood and the emotional conflicts with a brilliant, dominant father create the necessary background for a sympathetic understanding of the character and ambitions of the author.  Unfortunately. the drama of human relations is less forceful in I Am a Mathematician.

 

This volume begins at the moment Dr. Wiener enters his professional world as a young mathematician seeking a proper field for his abilities and struggling for recognition.  It is progressively more episodic in character; it deals less with the elations of first discoveries and his emotional difficulties, and more with a play‑by-play account of the events of his life and of his achievements through his years of maturity to his present‑day position as a leader in the field of Analysis.  Dr. Wiener repeatedly attempts to describe the significance of his work. which is known to professionals and will remain obscure to the layman.

 

As a result of his work and of his extensive travels in America, Europe, China and India, Dr. Wiener has met most leading mathematicians.  The sketches of their personalities and of his experience, often deft, amusing, or penetrating, add greatly to the interest of the book.

 

WHAT IS SCIENCE?

edited by James R. Newman

Simon & Schuster  $4.95

 

A collection of 12 essays in which a many scientists, and social scientists, attempt to explain their particular fields to the layman.  Impressive as they are, the discussions, in general, seem to require more than a layman interest or understanding of the reader.  Among the authors represented are Bertrand Russell (Science and Human Life), Hermann Bondi (Astronomy and Cosmology), Edward U. Condon (Physics), John Bead (Chemistry), Julian Huxley (Evolution and Genetics), Clyde Kluckhohn (Anthropology) and Erich Fromm (Psycho‑analysis).