Science: The Cheerful Mathematician

Middle-sized, plumpish John von Neumann was a man people liked on sight. Those who barely knew him called him Johnny; he might have been a popular restaurateur or candy-shop proprietor. He was, instead, the greatest mathematician of his time. His ideas and personality had a profound effect on today's scientific age.

Born in Hungary two years before the publication of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, Von Neumann grew up during the scientific breakthrough that produced the quantum theory, nuclear physics, the atomic and hydrogen bombs. After studying and teaching at leading European universities,...

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