Einstein's Greatest Mistake

Einstein's Greatest Mistake

A Biography

eBook - 2016
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"What Bodanis does brilliantly is to give us a feel for Einstein as a person. I don't think I've ever read a book that does this as well" ( Popular Science ). In this "fascinating" biography, the acclaimed author of E=mc2 reveals that in spite of his indisputable brilliance, Albert Einstein found himself ignored by most working scientists during the final decades of his life, his ideas opposed by even his closest friends ( Forbes ). How did this happen? Einstein revolutionized our understanding of the cosmos with his general theory of relativity, and helped lead us into the atomic age. This book goes beyond his remarkable intellect and accomplishments to examine the man himself, from the skeptical, erratic student to the world's greatest physicist to the fallen-from-grace celebrity. An intimate biography that "imparts fresh insight into the genius -- and failures -- of the 20th century's most celebrated scientist," Einstein's Greatest Mistake reveals what we owe Einstein today -- and how much more he might have achieved if not for his all-too-human flaws ( Publishers Weekly ). Named a Science Book of the Year by the Sunday Times and one of the Top Five Science Books of 2016 by ABC News Australia, this unique book "offers a window onto Einstein's achievements and missteps, as well as his life -- his friendships, his complicated love life (two marriages, many affairs) and his isolation from other scientists at the end of his life" ( BookPage ).
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780544808584
Characteristics: 1 online resource (288 pages)

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AJ_Owens
Jan 12, 2020

This is primarily a biography of Einstein, with a focus on his reluctance late in life to accept quantum mechanics. Bodanis describes his early successes; his decision to compromise his general relativity equation with a "cosmological constant" in the face of contemporary evidence; his regret and disavowal of the cosmological constant when the astronomical evidence changed; and his decision never again to allow contemporary evidence to sway him against his scientific instincts, resulting in his increasing isolation as the predictive power of quantum mechanics swept his friends and colleagues in a new direction.

Einstein's struggle with the cosmological constant was driven by a concern with mathematical elegance, but his struggle with quantum mechanics was motivated by his faith that the universe was ultimately rational and predictable. In this sense, Bodonis' book provides an excellent counterbalance to Lee Smolin's "Einstein's Unfinished Revolution."

The presentation of ideas in physics is greatly simplified. For example, the general relativity equation is expressed as "G=T". Bodonis provides an appendix with slightly more detail, as well as a link to a web site with more explanations and illustrations.

This is a highly readable and informative biography, with many entertaining and touching anecdotes about Einstein, his professional contemporaries, and his friends and lovers, along with a useful presentation of the ideas in physics that framed his life.

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