Stone wins 2014 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science

October 1, 2014

A. Douglas Stone, the Carl A. Morse Professor and chairman of applied physics, and professor of physics, has won the 2014 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science.

Stone won the prize for his book, “Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian,” published in 2013 by Princeton University Press. Written for a general audience as well as for scholars, it is an exploration of Albert Einstein’s central role in the quantum physics revolution of the early 20th century.

“I wish I’d had this book to read when I was an undergraduate,” a member of the award’s selection panel said. “Statistical mechanics and thermodynamics are taught as such dry topics ... (this book) brings the subject to life.”

The award will be presented at a dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 5. It comes with a $10,000 prize.

Stone’s book has been reviewed by publications such as Nature and Physics Today, as well as National Public Radio’s “Science Friday” program. It was listed in Scientific American’s top ten popular physics books of 2013 and was selected as an NPR top science book.

“I wanted to allow the reader to enter into the challenges and excitement of scientific discovery,” said Stone, who joined the Yale faculty in 1986. “I wanted readers to appreciate Einstein’s genius from the inside, as he was struggling. This was a turning point in human civilization. Either the human race was going to understand the atom, or it wasn’t.”

Stone is a theoretical physicist with interests in solid-state and optical/laser physics. He holds four patents for optical devices and has written more than 130 research and review articles.