Jeremy Bernstein


Jeremy Bernstein
Jeremy Bernstein

(1929-12-31) 31 December 1929 (age 92)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, Mathematics

Jeremy Bernstein (born December 31, 1929, in Rochester, New York) is an American theoretical physicist and science essayist.

Early life

Bernstein's parents, Philip S. Bernstein, a Reform rabbi, and Sophie Rubin Bernstein named him after the biblical Jeremiah, the subject of his father's masters thesis. Philip's parents were immigrants from Lithuania, while Sophie was of Russian-Jewish descent. The family moved from Rochester to New York City during World War II, when his father became head of all the Jewish chaplains in the armed forces.[1]

Education and career

Bernstein studied at Harvard University, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1951, masters in 1953, and Ph.D. in 1955, on electromagnetic properties of deuterium, under Julian Schwinger. As a theoretical physicist, he worked on elementary particle physics and cosmology. A summer spent in Los Alamos led to a position at the Institute for Advanced Study.[2] In 1962 he became a faculty member at New York University, moving to become a professor of physics at Stevens Institute of Technology in 1967, a position that he continues to hold as Professor Emeritus.[3] He has held adjunct or visiting positions at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, CERN, Oxford, the University of Islamabad, and the Ecole Polytechnique.[4]

He was also involved in Project Orion, investigating the potential for nuclear pulse propulsion for use in space travel.

Popular writing

Bernstein is best known for his popular science writing and profiles of scientists. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker from 1961 to 1995 and authored many dozens of articles.[5] He has also written regularly for The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Review of Books, and Scientific American, among others. His books include "Physicists on Wall Street and Other Essays on Science and Society" (2010), "Nuclear Weapons: What You Need to Know" (2010), "Quantum Leaps" (2009), "Hitler's Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall" (2000), "In the Himalayas: Journeys through Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan" (1996), and others, more than 15 books in all. "The Life It Brings", an autobiographical memoir, was published in 1986. Bernstein's biographical profiles of physicists, including Robert Oppenheimer, Hans Bethe, Albert Einstein, John Stewart Bell and others, are able to draw on the experiences of personal acquaintance.[3][4] Bernstein's latest publication is "A Bouquet of Dyson: and Other Reflections on Science and Scientists" (2018), [2]


  • Elementary Particles and Their Currents, Freeman, 1968
  • Kinetic Theory in the Expanding Universe, Cambridge University Press, 1988
  • Cosmological Constants – Papers in Modern Cosmology (with Gerald Feinberg), Columbia University Press, 1986 ISBN 978-0-231-06376-0
  • Plutonium – a History of the World's Most Dangerous Element, Joseph Henry Press, 2007 ISBN 978-0-309-10296-4
  • Nuclear Weapons – What You Need to Know, Cambridge University Press, 2010 ISBN 978-0-521-88408-2
  • The Life it Brings – One Physicist's Beginnings, Ticknor and Field, Penguin, 1987
  • A Theory of Everything (Essays), Springer, 1996
  • Quantum Profiles Conversations with physicists John Stewart Bell and John Archibald Wheeler, and Einstein's correspondence with Michele Besso), Princeton University Press, 1990 ISBN 0-691-08725-3
  • Three Degrees Above Zero – Bell Labs in the Information Age, Scribners, 1984
  • A Physicist on Wall Street and Other Essays on Science and Society, Springer, 2008 ISBN 978-0-387-76505-1
  • Albert Einstein and the Frontiers of Physics, Oxford University Press, 1996
  • Science Observed – Essays Out of My Mind, Basic Books, 1982
  • Cranks, Quarks and the Cosmos – Writings on Science, Basic Books, 1993[6]
  • The Merely Personal: Observations on Science and Scientists, Ivan Dee, 2001[7]
  • Oppenheimer – Portrait of an Enigma, Ivan Dee, 2004 ISBN 978-1-566-63569-1
  • Hans Bethe – Prophet of Energy, Basic Books, 1980
  • Hitler's Uranium Club – The Secret Recordings of Farm Hall (with David C. Cassidy), American Institute of Physics, 1996
  • Analytical Engine – Computers Past, Present and Future, Random House, 1964
  • Comprehensible World – on Modern Science and its Origin, Random House, 1967
  • Einstein, Viking Press 1973, Penguin Books, 1976
  • Secrets of the Old One: Albert Einstein 1905, Copernicus Books, 2006
  • Experiencing Science, Basic Books, 1978
  • Modern Physics (with Paul Fishbane, Stephen Gasiorowicz), Prentice Hall, 2000
  • Tenth Dimension: an Informal History of High Energy Physics, McGraw Hill, 1989
  • Quantum Leaps, Belknap Press, 2009
  • A Palette of Particles, Harvard University Press, 2013[8]
  • A Chorus of Bells and Other Scientific Inquiries, World Scientific, 2014 ISBN 978-981-4578-94-3
  • A Bouquet of Numbers and Other Scientific Offerings, World Scientific, 2016 ISBN 978-981-4759-76-2
  • A Bouquet of Dyson and Other Reflections on Science and Scientists, World Scientific, 2018 ISBN 978-981-3231-92-4

Media appearances


  1. ^ Jeremy Bernstein, Personal History, “I-THE LIFE IT BRINGS,” The New Yorker, January 26, 1987, p. 35
  2. ^ Jeremy Bernstein, Personal History, “II-THE LIFE IT BRINGS,” The New Yorker, February 2, 1987, p. 39
  3. ^ a b "Jeremy Bernstein," Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. ^ a b "Jeremy Bernstein (member bio)" at
  5. ^ The New Yorker, Search:Jeremy Bernstein
  6. ^ "Review of Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos: Writings on Science by Jeremy Bernstein". Publishers Weekly. February 1993.
  7. ^ "Review of The Merely Personal: Observations on Science and Scientists by Jeremy Bernstein". Publishers Weekly. February 1, 2001.
  8. ^ "Review of A Palette of Particles by Jeremy Bernstein". Publishers Weekly. December 17, 2012.
  9. ^ [1]

External links