Isaac Asimov, The Gods themselves, 1972, pp. 233/234.
Nice and well written book. Physics, science fiction, sex education / facts of life, emancipation of women. Really a book of the seventies!
Thanks, Johann, for the recommendation and for lending it to me!
The English Wikipedia mentions an interesting comment by Isaac Asimov concerning the middle section of the book:
Isaac Asimov, I, Asimov: A Memoir, 1994, New York: Doubleday, p. 250.
The English Wikipedia, the page on Isaac Asimov, section Criticisms, online, accessed April 11th, 2009.
The little excerpt you've already read would generally be enough for me but on the first page of the book there is such a nice and well selected section of a conversation that's actually taken from the second half of the first part of the book. In short words it depicts the main topic of the book. Here you go:
'Because, sir, upon the strength of the strong nuclear interaction rests the rate at which hydrogen fuses to helium in the core of the Sun. If the interaction strengthens even unnoticeably, the rate of hydrogen fusion in the sun will increase markedly. The Sun maintains the balance between radiation and gravitation with great delicacy and to upset that balance in favour of radiation, as we are now doing—'
'—will cause an enormous explosion. Under our laws of nature, it is impossible for a star as small as the Sun to become a supernova. Under the altered laws, it may not be. I doubt that we would have warning. The Sun would build up to a vast explosion and in eight minutes after that you and I will be dead and the Earth will quickly vaporize into an expanding puff of vapor.'
pp. 1 & 56.