Titel: A matter of choices : memoirs of a female ...
Einband: Soft cover
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When Fay Ajzenberg-Selove became a nuclear physicist, the number of women in the field could be counted on one hand. In this engaging memoir, Fay Ajzenberg-Selove writes candidly about her difficult journey to international recognition in physics. She is frank about the ways being a woman has made a difference in her opportunities and choices as a scientist--and how, by being a woman, she has made a difference in the world of physics.
Ajzenberg-Selove came to America at the age of 15 after narrowly escaping the Nazi takeover of France. She had planned to become an engineer like her father, but switched to physics after she was told the only engineering jobs open to women were in drafting: Marie Curie's example proved to her that women could do physics. Her first attempt at graduate work at Columbia University was a disaster, but she was sturck with the intellectual beauty of the field. After taking a Ph.D. in physics at University of Wisconsin, she did post-doctoral work with Thomas Lauritsen at the California Institute of Technology, where she began writing the first of a series of major review papers on the nuclear spectroscopy of the light nuclei, a subject of fundamental importance to nuclear physics, astrophysics, and applied physics. She continued this work and experimental research for thirty-eight years while teaching at Boston University, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania.
During her early career, Ajzenberg-Selove was shielded by her male mentors from experiencing much of the discrimination directed against women in science. Her simultaneous battles to become a tenured professor and to overcome breast cancer opened her eyes and confirmed her as a feminist.
The lay reader and the scientist alike will be fascinated by Ajzenberg-Selove's clear portrayal of her interlinked lives as physicist, teacher, wife of particle physicist, Walter Selove, and a woman who relishes both competition and friendship in a male-dominated field. An invaluable book for anyone contemplating a career in science.
Exhilarating account of a persevering and undaunted life in science. Ajzenberg-Selove was born in Berlin in 1926 of Polish-Russian parents who later settled in France. Father Misha had a degree as a mining engineer from St. Petersburg--a rare distinction for a poor Jew from Warsaw. He was also something of a genius at landing on his feet--becoming a banker in Berlin, running a sugar-beet factory outside Paris, and later, through good luck and connections, escaping from France and landing the family in America, where he achieved further entrepreneurial successes--all this being important, since, without Misha's encouragement, Faye's life would undoubtedly have been different. (By contrast, her mother was a mezzo-soprano, rather spoiled and pampered.) Misha wanted Faye to become an engineer, and, indeed, she became the only woman enrolled in Michigan's school of engineering. But engineering was not her cup of tea. Physics appealed, however. And this is perhaps the oddest feature of her career: she was absolutely terrible at it. ``My academic work was extremely poor,'' she notes, ``but I loved physics, and I was determined to succeed.'' And succeed she did, carving a name for herself in the nuclear spectroscopy of light elements and marrying another successful physicist: Walter Selove--a choice made for her by Marietta Bohr, Niels' daughter-in-law. Compellingly of interest here are the stories of the couple's wooing, of Faye's zeal for teaching, her hard-fought victory in getting tenure in the physics department of the University of Pennsylvania (where Wally also teaches), and not least her battle against recurrent breast cancer. Inspiring examples of one woman's intelligence, commitment, courage, and endurance. And while she may have wobbled once in physics, she clearly knows how to write. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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