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Science at the Breakfast Table


The physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer and the chemist Joseph E. Mayer, during some forty years of marriage, exchanged scientific ideas continuously. We can see results of this exchange in the paths their individual intellectual careers took: Maria’s from formal, mathematical atomic physics to nuclear physics informed by the phenomenological insights of a chemist, and Joe’s from experimental chemistry to highly mathematical statistical mechanics. This is the kind of intellectual interaction that often goes on between scientific colleagues during the course of informal interactions, but which is rarely acknowledged since the results are often subtle shifts in scientific perspective.

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Johnson, K. Science at the Breakfast Table. Phys. perspect. 1, 22–34 (1999).

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  • Key words. Biography; history of science; statistical physics; nuclear physics; Maria Goeppert Mayer; Joseph E. Mayer.