Haphazard Reality, the autobiography of Hendrik Casimir (1909–2000), was first published in 1983 by Harper & Row. I am delighted to see this reissue of what I consider to be an outstanding scientific autobiography, making it easily available to a new generation of students and historians.

Casimir is most famous for his discovery of the effects of imposed boundaries on a quantum system, which can lead to a physical manifestation of the ground state energy. The original Casimir force is the mutual attraction of two flat perfectly conducting plates due to the modification of the ground state of the electromagnetic field between them. The phenomenon has found widespread application throughout modern physics, particularly in this age of nanoengineering. It is notable that Casimir developed this idea while he was a director of the multinational electronics research and manufacturing firm Philips.

On rereading this biography, I remain impressed by its...

AAPT members receive access to the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher as a member benefit. To learn more about this member benefit and becoming an AAPT member, visit the Joining AAPT page.