When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut

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Pushkin Press
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Translated by Adrian Nathan West


Reimagining pivotal moments in the history of science with an emphasis on the moral and ethical dilemmas that dominated the twentieth century, Labatut’s searingly intelligent novel of ideas boasts a cast including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schroedinger.


Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2021


Albert Einstein opens a letter sent to him from the Eastern Front of World War I. Inside, he finds the first exact solution to the equations of general relativity, unaware that it contains a monster that could destroy his life's work.


The great mathematician Alexander Grothendieck tunnels so deeply into abstraction that he tries to cut all ties with the world, terrified of the horror his discoveries might cause.


Erwin Schroedinger and Werner Heisenberg battle over the soul of physics after creating two equivalent yet opposed versions of quantum mechanics. Their fight will tear the very fabric of reality, revealing a world stranger than they could have ever imagined.


Using extraordinary, epoch-defining moments from the history of science, Benjamin Labatut plunges us into exhilarating territory between fact and fiction, progress and destruction, genius and madness.