In 1905 Albert Einstein is 26 and working at the Swiss Patent Office as a poorly paid third-class technical expert. In his spare time he pursues his passion for physics. The papers he produces will be extraordinary, revolutionising the way we view the world and laying the foundation of modern physics. In this collection of essays from the acclaimed Royal Society/National Radio series E=mc2, leading New Zealand scientists and historians explore the centuries of science that led to Einstein's astonishing discoveries, and their world-shaking aftermath.
• Matt Visser - A Short History of the Universe : How it all began
• Hamish Campbell - Discovering the Age of the Earth : Deciphering the geological clues
• Richard Hall & Lesley Hall - Einstein and the Eternal Railway Carriage : Einstein the man, and his amazing theory of relativity
• Tom Barnes - Schrdinger's Cat : The mystery and magic of quantum mechanics
• Paul Callaghan - Journey to the Heart of Matter : The road that led to Ernest Rutherford and the final frontier
• Robert Hannah - The Unconquered Sun : Keeping time, from the ancient lunar calendar to the 21st century atomic clock
• John Stenhouse - Galileo's Dilemma : Are science and religion always incompatible?
• With an introduction by Rebecca Priestley
When you are a book reviewer, there are always new things just a page away... one small sheet of processed plant material can be the doorway to a thousand new worlds, or to a new perspective of this one. This is one of those books.
For anyone interested in the background and history of science, and the environment around Einstein leading up to, and at the time of his world-shaking publications in 1905, then you are going to love this little tome.
It would have been interesting to hear some of these read out on the radio, but there is something more educational about a hardcopy. Simply that some of the concepts can take a second reading to really form in your head.
Though some of the essays touch on Einstein only glancingly, they all provide further insight into the environment around him, the history that he borrowed from and built on, and the scientific mindsets prevalent at the time.
Overall, I found this to be quite easy reading, without being overly dumbed-down. There were informative graphs and photos of some of the people mentioned throughout, and the comprehensive lists of referenced and related material, along with the detailed index gave me an easy way to locate more detailed information about specific topics of interest. This will appear to the highbrows out there, but is also a well-balanced introduction for neophytes or those just curious about a bigger picture as well. A good all-rounder for any science enthusiast.
Random listing from 'Books'...
As a young girl, Ani Choying escaped her violent home for a monastery in Nepal. One day, an American jazz guitarist heard the young nun sing and was so enthralled by her voice that he recorded an album with her. The pay cheque enabled Ani Choying to open the Arya Tara School, just outside Kathmandu, offering shelter and education to sixty disadvantaged girls. Ani Choying now tours the world giving concerts, driven by her desire to help her young Nepalese charges. In Singing for Freedom, she tells her shocking and inspiring story.
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"Common sense is just experience so ingrained, you use it almost without thinking. The worst thing is, we aren't born with it."