Hungarian scientists were at the center of science and world politics in the 20th century. Their extraordinary talent was mainly due to their unique way of thinking, their renowned teachers at their Hungarian high schools as well as their historical backgrounds. In the West, people explained their inexplicable achievements by saying they had come from Mars. The famous Martians’ special view of life has a message for today’s readers and future generations alike.
In addition to presenting the unprecedented mentality of Hungarian physicists, the book gives an insight into the way their fates were shaped, the background of their scientific achievements, the behind-the-scenes events of their work, and the way the scientific world of the era worked. We get to know the people behind the great names with the help of György Marx’s informal style, and the everlasting cheerfulness, humor, and optimism that run through his anecdotes.
“[…] fortunately, there was a Hungarian in America, Leo Szilard, who was a versatile person. He was even capable of explaining the concept of a nuclear chain reaction to the Americans! Yet there was one thing that even Szilard could not do: drive a car. In the summer of 1939, I was working at Columbia University in New York, just like Szilard. One day, he came up to me and said, ‘Mr. Teller, I am asking you to drive out with me to Einstein.’ […] So, out we drove on August 2. The only problem remaining was that Szilard again did not know where Einstein was staying for the holidays. We started asking around but nobody knew. We asked an eightyear- old girl—she had a nice ponytail—where Einstein was living. She did not know either. Finally, Szilard said, ‘You know he is that old man with long, flowing white hair.’ Then the girl gave us the direction, ‘He’s staying in the second house!’ We entered; Einstein was cordial, offered tea to Szilard, and—being democratic—he invited in the chauffeur as well. Szilard pulled a letter from his pocket addressed to President Roosevelt […]”