Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and His Astonishing Exploratorium

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-07-24
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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How do we reclaim our innate enchantment with the world? And how can we turn our natural curiosity into a deep, abiding love for knowledge? Frank Oppenheimer, the younger brother of the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, was captivated by these questions, and used his own intellectual inquisitiveness to found the Exploratorium, a powerfully influential museum of human awareness in San Francisco, that encourages play, creativity, and discovery-all in the name of understanding. In this elegant biography, K. C. Cole investigates the man behind the museum with sharp insight and deep sympathy. The Oppenheimers were a family with great wealth and education, and Frank, like his older brother, pursued a career in physics. But while Robert was unceasingly ambitious, and eventually came to be known for his work on the atomic bomb, Frank's path as a scientist was much less conventional. His brief fling with the Communist Party cost him his position at the University of Minnesota, and he subsequently spent a decade ranching in Colorado before returning to teaching. Once back in the lab, however, Frank found himself moved to create something to make the world meaningful after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was inspired by European science museums ,and he developed a dream of teaching Americans about science through participatory museums. Thus was born the magical world of the Exploratorium, forever revolutionizing not only the way we experience museums, but also science education for years to come. Cole has brought this charismatic and dynamic figure to life with vibrant prose and rich insight into Oppenheimer as both a scientist and an individual.

Author Biography

K. C. Cole is an award-winning science writer, professor at the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California, and the author of nine nonfiction books, including the best seller The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
The World he Came Into
Palace of Delightsp. 3
A Little Royal Familyp. 26
The Uncle of the Atom Bombp. 51
Un-Americanp. 75
Exilep. 101
An Intellectual Desert-and a Library of Experimentsp. 128
The World he Made Up
A Museum Dedicated to Awarenessp. 147
A Decent Respect for Tastep. 179
The Man with the Gold-Rimmed Glassesp. 204
The Sentimental Fruits of Sciencep. 234
The Anarchp. 261
The World He Made Upp. 293
Coda: Living a Fruitful Lifep. 321
Speech to the 1960 graduating class of Pagosa Springs High School
Acknowledgmentsp. 325
Notesp. 331
Bibliographyp. 371
Indexp. 384
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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