Miller, Arthur I.
Miller, Arthur I.
CAREER: Educator and writer. University College London, London, England, professor; Ettore Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture, Erice, Sicily, director of School of International History of Physics. Visiting professor at École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris, France, 1977.
MEMBER: American Physical Society (fellow; vice chairman, Division of History of Physics, 1983–84, chairman 1984–85), Académie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences (corresponding fellow).
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships and grants from John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, American Philosophical Society, American Council of Learned Societies, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and Fritz Thyssen stiftung.
Imagery in Scientific Thought: Creating Twentieth-Century Physics, Birkhäuser (Boston, MA), 1984.
Frontiers of Physics, 1900–1911: Selected Essays with an Original Prologue and Postscript, Birkhäuser (Boston, MA), 1986.
(Editor) Sixty-two Years of Uncertainty: Historical, Philosophical, and Physical Inquiries into the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, Plenum Press (New York, NY), 1990.
(Editor and contributor) Early Quantum Electrodynamics: A Source Book, translations from the German by Walter Grant, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art, Copernicus (New York, NY), 1996.
Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and Beauty That Causes Havoc, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.
American Journal of Physics, former associate editor.
SIDELIGHTS: Arthur I. Miller specializes in the history and philosophy of science with an emphasis on nineteenth- and twentieth-century science and technology, cognitive science, and scientific creativity. He is the author of several books on these topics, both for a scientific audience and for the interested general public. Intended for a scientific audience, Early Quantum Electrodynamics: A Source Book, which Miller edited, presents eleven papers on renormalization theory that are considered classics in the physics community. The book includes a frame-setting essay by Miller.
Miller has also written extensively about the relationship between art and science. His book Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art explores the idea that visual imagery played a vitally important role in the development of modern science. Although much of the book focuses on topics in the philosophy of science, such as scientific realism, it also explores the work of artists such as Cezanne and Pablo Picasso as they relate to developments in science. "Miller's understanding of the quantum and relativistic revolutions is impressive," wrote Christopher D. Green in Isis. Green went on to note that the author "presents an engaging account of the personalities, cognitive styles, and internal political struggles that underlay the transformation from a Newtonian worldview to the twentieth-century view."
In Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and Beauty That Causes Havoc the author discusses the revolutions in science and art brought about by Albert Einstein and Picasso, respectively. Although the artist and the scientist never met, Miller sets forth the theory that both were influenced by a paper on non-Euclidean geometry written by Henri Poincare. In his treatise, Poincare discussed the theory that artists and physicists could capture dimensions of time and space beyond those that are known in physical life. Miller theorizes that science and art, in the hands of Einstein and Picasso, merged in the realm of ideas and profoundly affected the normal worldview. In the course of his discussion, Miller examines the lives, friends, colleagues, and lovers who also influenced Einstein and Picasso; he includes both scientific diagrams and art by Picasso and other artists. Reviewing Einstein, Picasso in the Library Journal, Martin R. Kalfatovic noted that "Miller creates a compelling argument for the confluence of aesthetics and science." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book an "eloquent and wide-ranging interdisciplinary history of ideas." Martin H. Levinson, writing in Etc.: A Review of General Semantics, stated that "Miller reveals the humanity and intellectuality of Einstein and Picasso through alternating chapters." Levinson also commented that the author's "lucid writing style makes Einstein, Picasso a particularly entertaining and informative read."
Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes focuses on the development of the theory that black holes exist in space and the scientific infighting that occurred over whether or not the theory was in fact true. The first to propose the existence of black holes was a twenty-year-old Cambridge student of physics in 1935 named Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, known as Chandra. A graduate-student prodigy, Chandra underwent ridicule even from his own mentor, Sir Arthur Eddington. Miller recounts Chandra's battle to prove he was right and he also discusses the progress of astrophysics from the 1930s forward, including portraits of famed physicists Edward Teller, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Niels Bohr. Noting that the book emphasizes complex science, a Kirkus Reviews contributor went on to comment: "The rewards for the diligent, however, are many and profound." Another reviewer, writing in Publishers Weekly, said that "astronomy buffs and readers fascinated by the history of science will find this a compelling read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Etc.: A Review of General Semantics, winter, 2002, Martin H. Levinson, review of Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty That Causes Havoc, p. 462.
Isis, December, 2003, Christopher D. Green, review of Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art, p. 748.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes, p. 216.
Library Journal, June 1, 2001, Martin R. Kalfatovic, review of Einstein, Picasso, p. 154; December 1, 2004, Barbara Hoffert, review of Empire of the Stars, p. 92; April 1, 2005, Margaret F. Dominy, review of Empire of the Stars, p. 121.
Publishers Weekly, March 12, 2001, review of Einstein, Picasso, p. 71; March 14, 2005, review of Empire of the Stars, p. 57.
Science, September 9, 1994, Katherine Livingston, review of Early Quantum Electrodynamics: A Source Book, p. 1605.
University College London Web site, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ (July 16, 2005), biographical information on author.