A Passion for Physics: The Story of a Woman Physicist
- Publish Date: 1991-01-01
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Joan Freeman
Few research scientists write their autobiographies. Consequently, their motivations, aspirations, and the ways in which they operate are poorly understood by the outside world. Putting a human face to physics, A Passion for Physics: The Story of a Woman Physicist is a welcome addition to the small number of examples of its kind. As the author vividly describes, it was not easy for young women to acquire a broad scientific education, particularly before World War II in Australia, where she was born and grew up. Although their prospects are much better now than they were, women today still meet some discouragement in taking up physics as a career.
Beginning with an account of her early life, Dr. Freeman describes her struggles to gain a physics education, the vicissitudes of the Depression, her experiences at Sydney University, and her years in the wartime radar establishment in Sydney. The story continues with the tribulations and triumphs of the author's period at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, her meeting with physicist John Jelley whom she ultimately married, her transition to the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, and her adventures in the United States. The book captures Dr. Freeman's sense of excitement and awe in gaining through her profession a fresh insight into the beauty, the intricacies, and the mystery of the physical world, and her admiration of the advances in understanding that have been achieved through continuing human endeavor.
Dr. Freeman's story provides an encouraging role model for aspiring young women physicists. Avoiding emphasis on technical aspects of physics, the book is a source of entertainment for the general reader, with its many, often humorous, anecdotes about the author and her contemporaries.