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Cover photo: Hendrik B.G. Casimir in 1959 (source:
Philips Company Archives, Eindhoven)

Haphazard Reality: Half a Century of Science by Hendrik B.G. Casimir (143,000 words)

“An outstanding scientific autobiography... I remain impressed by its thoughtfulness and charm.” — Steve K. Lamoreaux,
American Journal of Physics

“What makes this book fascinating reading is the account of people, [Casimir’s] teachers and colleagues and some others. The portraits given here are very perceptive and lifelike, the author showing a remarkable memory for conversations and incidents that happened many years ago. [...] Casimir writes with admiration and gratitude of Ehrenfest’s inspiration and guidance, but does not gloss over his faults and occasional unreasonableness. [...] There is an excellent study of Niels Bohr [...] Casimir talks with great frankness about his attitude to industry.” — Rudolf Peierls,

“[A] rich autobiography and history-of-atomic-physics... One is impressed by Casimir’s memory for detail and zeal to find corroboration for the stories he tells. And they are splendid tales: Gamow’s playful pranks in Copenhagen: conversations with Lev Landau, ardent revolutionary but no Marxist; the tragedy of Ehrenfest, who killed himself after shooting his hopelessly retarded son... A charming, idiosyncratic, and meaningful account of events and personalities that changed physics.” —

“I myself read [this book] with fascination, meeting old friends such as Gamow, Landau, Kramers, and learning much more about them... Also in the book are character sketches of those who made physics in the Netherlands such as Lorentz, Kamerlingh Onnes and Ehrenfest, the latter remembered with the greatest affection by the author.” — Sir Nevill Mott,
Contemporary Physics

“The book... contains a valuable, entertaining and insightful collection of vignettes of many of the physicists Casimir has associated with[,]... Lorentz, Ehrenfest, Bohr, Pauli, with whom he studied; Goudsmit, Uhlenbeck, Landau, Gamov, members of his own generation; Kramers, Gorter, de Haas, colleagues in Dutch academic circles; Holst and Loupart, colleagues at the Philips Laboratories. Haphazard Reality also offers valuable insights into Dutch middle class culture and a rewarding overview of Dutch educational and scientific establishments... Casimir is a master at deftly and sensitively conveying the psychological ambiance of his surroundings. His description of the brilliant young theoretical physicists around Bohr in the early thirties conveys not only the style of doing physics but also delineates the issues addressed by outlining the content of their researches.” — S. S. Schweber,
4S Review

“Engaging reminiscences by an important Dutch physicist of conversations with the major contributors to 20th-century physics. An overly modest, but otherwise balanced account of his own experiences and contributions from his early years at Leiden to his directorship of the Philips Laboratory.” —
The Antioch Review

Haphazard Reality paints a vivid and insightful picture of the development of modern physics.” — Steve K. Lamoreaux, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society