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BOOK REVIEW Wandlungen in den Grundlagen der Naturwissenschaft (Changes in the Fundamental Concepts of Natural Sciences). Ten Lectures by W. Heisenberg

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structure, the amino acid composition, and the groups
responsible for the activity are presented with a completeness
not found clscwlicrc to date. The inductive and metabolic
regulation of cn/,ynic formation is also discussed where
i n d i cii ted .
By t h i 5 ari-angcment, the properties of enzymes and the
relations t o the catalytic functions are excellently brought out.
However, this arrangement does not do full justice to the
importance of enlymes a s metabolic catalysts and to their
role in the organism.
I t U;IY thcrcfore the plan of the editors to devote individual
chapters to such cnlymes only about which considerable
information is available concerning either the properties of
the eniymc molecule or the nature of the process catalyzed
and to preface the indibidual groups with survey chapters
containing the relationships and generalizations (but describing ;iIso less well characterized enzymes). This was done by
competent ;iiithors who extracted the literature, at least up
to 1959 and sometimes even up to 1960 (that is, immediately
before going to press), as well as their own unpublished
material. They have adapted themselves to the general plan,
\\ rittcn comprehensive and complete chapters, and, together
L b i t h the good editorial staff, have created a n extremely useful
a n d modern handbook. Frequently, the existing material
docs not as yct permit a complete representation of the
catalytic process; in these cases, particularly, one finds
\tinnulating discussions and considerations, for example,
about the activation and mechanism of various peptidases
and glucosidascs, or the substrate specificity of cholinesterase.
Some survey chapters, such as that about peptidases (E. L.
. Y m ; / / i ) , phosphatases (G. Sclimidt and M. Luskowski),
phosphorylases (M. Colin) or isomerases ( Y . J. Topper) are
particularly well done.
FrcqLicntly, however, the plan demands too much of the
authors since unified viewpoints can be brought into the
material only by force. Generalized predictions can hardly
c\cr be expcctcd. All in all, the biochemist finds a book which
is clearly arranged, critically oriented, penetratingly analyzed
and most up-to-date. As always, the publishers have brought
out a n excellent edition and complemented its usefulness by
careful author and subject indexes.
L. Juenicke
[NB 797/1 IE]
Wandlungen in den Grundlagen der Naturwissenschaft (Changes
in the Fundamental Concepts of Natural Sciences). Ten
Lectures by W. Heisenberg. S. Hirzel Co., Stuttgart, 9th
edition, 1959, 183 p p . DM 12.-. ($6 3 . ) ~ - - .
Ten lectures, given before various audiences between the
ycnrs 1932 and 1958, were combined in this ninth edition of
Ifoiveirhory’s hook. Their main purpose was to present the
more important, newer concepts of contemporary physics to
;I larger circle of laymen. For this reason the mathematical
complexities of the discipline have been omitted (only in two
lectures is some familiarity with quantum mechanics required
for perfect understanding). For the same reasons of simplicity, this collection of lectures deals essentially with a single
theme, rather than with a sequence of cumulative concepts.
Each lecture is a self-contained unit. Monotony of repetition
i \ :I\ oided by discussing the same basic problem from different
points of view. The treatment varies with the premise and
p ~ i r p o s cof the question asked. Mindful of the fact that one
can speak meaningfully about “change” only in the light of
;in existing historical background, the author devotes several
/ < r , y i \ i c , ~ c ~i idm i i a ,
lectures to a description of the historical development of
physical concepts. In this discussion, it becomes apparent
that from the days of antiquity there has been a clear tendency
in physics, astronomy, and chemistry to unify and simplify
the understanding of nature by postulating an ordered u n i verse. In such an orderly universe, it is possible t o seek the
constant and the immutable which underlies the changing
multiplicity of natural processes perceived by the senses, and
reveal them through mathematical structures dcpicting
reality. The reduction of sensible qualities to the quantities in
the atomic theory of Democritus represented the first step on
the road leading to analytical “explanations” and the first
attempt to discover causative relationships between natural
phenomena. This analytical view takes the place of the direct
cognition, intuitive “understanding” and interpretations of
nature. Thus, even the very earliest statements of science were
bought at the price of renouncing the evidence of the senses
and the direct experience of nature. Later, this seriously
disturbed Goefhe, whose oft-cited disagrcement with Newrot/
is critically discussed by the author.
Nevertheless, modern science continues to pursue this selfdefeating course. Instead of “explaining” it modestly aims at
“describing” nature. While strictly abstaining from any
judgment on the “why’s” of natural plienomena, science
aims exclusively at the “how” of the event. Since an event is
defined solely in terms of mathematical functions, the concept
of “description” acquires, as a consequence, a meaning
considerably different from the original connotation.
But these generalized intellectual constructions, made up as
they are of mere hypotheses, are so far from giving a true
picture of nature, that each individual event requires further
verification. Furthermore, no single experiment can ever quite
exactly conform to the predictions of these ideal limiting laws.
The youngest phase of physics emerges as ii continuation, in
purpose and method, of this centuries-old scientific thinking.
Results of quantum niechanics thus appear as the logical
consequence of the chain of thought begun by Democritus
in deriving perceptible qualities from mathematical calculations. Carrying this reasoning to its logical extreme
(whereby a particle of mass is ultimately reducod to a differential equation) leads to a situation where all imagery is
ips0 fczcfo erroneous. In the strictest sense, atoms are, therefore, no longer regarded as real corporal structures.
That notwithstanding all the continuity of methodological
progress we are dealing here with a profound change is
illustrated by the changing concepts of matter, space and
causality. The change affects not only individual ideas and
results, but also the very “foundations” of physical science.
This becomes most apparent when modern atomic physicists
abandon the view, held by their predecessors, that the observation of natural phenomena can he independent of the
preconceptions of the investigator. In fact, every observation
made in the microphysical realm is inevitably accompanied
by a disturbance of the observation, leading physicists to
reject the classical demand for objectivity, and thereby
forcing upon them a new scientific philosophy.
The author shows careful restraint in dealing with philosophical problems and his statements d o not go beyond the
present state of science. The problems are not ignored, but
are displayed intact in their entire theoretical form and
import. This will be particularly appreciated by the reader
whose interests involve more than the quest for purely
factual information.
E. Slroelcer [ N B 826/9 IE]
t~aclemarks,etc. used in this journal, even without specific indication thereof, are not to be considered unprotected by law.
1962 by Vcrlag Chemie, GmbH. - Printed in Germany by Druckerei Winter, Heidelberg.
A11 rights reserved. No part of this journal may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, e.g. by photoprint, microfilm, or any other means, without
\$ritten pcrmiasion from the publishers.
l’ditorial nfficc: Ziegelhauser Landstrasse 35, Heidelberg, Germany, Telephone 24975, Telex 04-61 855, Cable address: Chemieredaktion Heidelberg.
‘ Editors: F. Boschke and H . Grirnewald.
Publishers: Verlag Chemie GmbH. (President Eduard Kreurhage), Pappelallee 3 , Weinheim/Bergstr., Germany, and Acadciiiic Press Inc. (President
tb’nltcdr J. .lolrn.son), 11 1 Fifth Avenue, New York 3, N. Y., USA, and Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London, W. I , England.
C‘hief Editor: W .
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Angew. Chem. internat. Edit. 1 Vol. I (1962) 1 No. 4
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