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Princeton University Press: Surprises in Theoretical Physics (1979), 1978-1990


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This book was developed from courses of lectures of the same title given by Peierls at Seattle, 1977, and at Orsay, 1977-1978. It discusses and gives examples of problems in theoretical physics whose obvious or commonsense explanation had been shown to be 'wrong', while those seemingly contrary to intuition might be borne out by experiment (see Bird of Passage pp. 331-332).

Peierls was first approached about publication of the lectures by E. Tenner of Princeton University Press in March 1978. He was also in correspondence with Oxford University Press (see MS. 11619/43/E.51) and had himself written to Taylor & Francis, publishers of Contemporary Physics (q.v.), (MS. 11619/44/E.66). He accepted Princeton's offer partly because of their favourable terms and partly because of an anomaly in UK income-tax laws for 'non-residents' which he had then technically become.

The book's favourable reception and translation into several languages (MS. 11619/44/E.68) led Peierls to compile a follow-up collection More surprises in theoretical physics which appeared in 1991 (see MS. 11619/45/E.79-E.81).

Princeton University Press was Peierls's preferred publisher for all his later books, which are listed here in chronological order.


  • Creation: 1978-1990

Language of Materials

  • English

Full range of shelfmarks:

MS. 11619/44/E.66-72

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom