The MANIAC review: A dark novel about the legendary John von Neumann

John von Neumann with MANIAC, the first computer to be based on his architecture

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Benjamín Labatut (Pushkin Press)

IT IS a curious and morbid fact that some of the 20th century’s most talented scientists died by suicide or experienced mental breakdowns so severe that they had to leave their fields altogether. One often quoted physics textbook, States of Matter by David L. Goodstein, opens with these sentences: “Ludwig Boltzmann, who spent much of his life studying statistical mechanics, died in 1906, by his own hand. Paul Ehrenfest, …


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