When Albert Einstein came to Berlin in 1914, in the months before the outbreak of the First World War, he was already a well-known figure in the scientific community thanks to his annus mirabilis of 1905 when he published four extraordinary papers which helped change the direction of twentieth-century physics. In Berlin, Einstein was appointed to the Prussian Academy of…

Stephen Hawking’s fame is global. Even if one is not completely aware of his accomplishments or his specific contributions to the field of applied physics, his name is recognized nearly everywhere. Errol Morris’s documentary, A Brief History of Time, titled after Hawking’s seminal book published in 1988, is a careful analysis of the physicist’s life that reveals a brilliant man,…

This is a book about a mathematical formula that nearly everyone—even those who are science-phobic—can recite, but almost no one can actually explain with the slightest degree of coherence. If pressed for details, many of us would perhaps draw a straight line between Albert Einstein’s tiny stroke of genius and the detonation of nuclear weapons a half century later in…

We’re doomed! …or not. In “The Cosmic Connection,” Jeff Kanipe tackles the Earth’s place in the universe, and how other denizens and aspects of the cosmos have contributed to the development of life here. Yet, they may also have led to mass extinctions in the past and may yet again in the future. The cosmos giveth and the cosmos taketh…

Einstein and Oppenheimer examines the lives of two of the 20th century’s most consequential physicists. The book is not a conventional biographical treatment of the two men, but instead takes a look at their views on creativity, their spiritual philosophies and their various approaches to their own celebrity. As Schweber notes on many occasions throughout the book, these six essays…

Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness, is a detailed look at the five papers written by Einstein in 1905—known as his Annus Mirabilis, the extraordinary year—that truly separated him from other physicists of his time and beyond. The book looks into the interconnection between those papers and how Einstein built on each one to fundamentally change physics, the science community,…

Ohanian’s book begins by presenting Einstein as a young graduate student seeking a university appointment before accepting a discouraging post as a patent clerk. The narrative is immediately engaging and sets the accessible, and often light-hearted tone carried throughout the book. Ohanian highlights Einstein’s mediocre scholastic performance, poor personal hygiene and challenged interpersonal skills as likely culprits for his inability…

Einstein and Our World is in many ways like an engaging, introductory school course—so effectively conveyed that it might inspire a lifelong passion for the subject. The “instructor” in this case is David C. Cassidy, a professor of natural sciences at Hofstra University, and the former associate editor of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Cassidy has the rare gift…

In the late 1970s, Steve Allen hosted a show on PBS called “A Meeting of Minds.” Its format was a talk show bringing together renowned historical personalities, portrayed by actors. Similar in concept is the format of Harald Fritzsch’s “The Curvature of Spacetime,” which is presented as an imaginary dialogue set in 1996 among Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and…

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