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25 Local Warehouse History of Science- General
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The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity

by

The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

How did one elegant theory incite a scientific revolution?

Physicists have been exploring, debating, and questioning the general theory of relativity ever since Albert Einstein first presented it in 1915. Their work has uncovered a number of the universes more surprising secrets, and many believe further wonders remain hidden within the theory's tangle of equations, waiting to be exposed. In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, astrophysicist Pedro Ferreira brings general relativity to life through the story of the brilliant physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers who have taken up its challenge. For these scientists, the theory has been both a treasure trove and an enigma, fueling a century of intellectual struggle and triumph.

Einstein's theory, which explains the relationships among gravity, space, and time, is possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics, yet studying it has always been a controversial endeavor. Relativists were the target of persecution in Hitler's Germany, hounded in Stalin's Russia, and disdained in 1950s America. Even today, PhD students are warned that specializing in general relativity will make them unemployable. Despite these pitfalls, general relativity has flourished, delivering key insights into our understanding of the origin of time and the evolution of all the stars and galaxies in the cosmos. Its adherents have revealed what lies at the farthest reaches of the universe, shed light on the smallest scales of existence, and explained how the fabric of reality emerges. Dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and string theory are all progeny of Einstein's theory.

We are in the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics. As scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory reveals the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led, and where it can still take us.

Review:

"First formulated by Einstein in 1907, two years after publishing his special theory of relativity, the general theory of relativity has endured some hard times, having been challenged by quantum mechanics in the 1930s and by dialectical materialism in the Soviet Union during Stalin's reign. Even Einstein doubted some of his early conclusions. But Ferreira, a professor of astrophysics at Oxford, shares the story of general relativity's revival and application to previously unobservable objects like quasars and black holes. Ferreira's book is also about the people who find joy and excitement in discovering the secrets of the universe. With palpable delight, Ferreira details false starts, chance discoveries, and the vindication of long-ridiculed ideas that emerged from the work that predicted singularities, M-theory, and dark energy. He also shows that Einstein didn't work in a vacuum; international collaboration made confirmation of his theory possible, while overturning some initial conclusions. Perhaps most importantly, Ferreira's clear explanations offer a wonderful look into a world of those who tackle the hard math that is 'the key to understanding the history of the universe, the origin of time, and the evolution of... the cosmos.' Agent: Patrick Walsh, Conville & Walsh (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"It's been a heck of a century for relativity, and The Perfect Theory is a perfect guide for this most beloved branch of modern physics." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"No book better prepares armchair physicists for the intellectual excitement ahead!" Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Ferreira does not downplay relativity's complexity and avoids the easy route of oversimplifying it into a cosmic magic show. The result is one of the best popular accounts of how Einstein and his followers have been trying to explain the universe for decades." Kirkus (starred review)

Synopsis:

On the eve of the theory's 100th birthday, here is the first complete biography of Einstein's theory of general relativity, revealing the personal feuds and ideological battles, the decades of neglect, the resurgence, and now, the deep questioning of a theory that has given us black holes, dark energy, and modern cosmology.

Synopsis:

At the core of Einstein's general theory of relativity are a set of equations that explain the relationship among gravity, space, and time — possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics. For over a century, physicists have been exploring, debating, and at times neglecting Einstein's theory in their quest to uncover the history of the universe, the origin of time, and the evolution of solar systems, stars, and galaxies.

In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, Pedro Ferreira explains the theory through the human drama surrounding it: the personal feuds and intellectual battles of the biggest names in twentieth-century physics, from Einstein and Eddington to Hawking and Penrose.

We are in the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics. As scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory engagingly reveals the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led, and where it can still take us.

About the Author

Pedro G. Ferreira is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford. An expert in cosmology, the early universe and general relativity, he writes frequently for trade and academic science publications and is a regular commentator for the BBC.

Table of Contents

Prologue  xi

   1. If a Person Falls Freely  1

   2. The Most Valuable Discovery  12

   3. Correct Mathematics, Abominable Physics  28

   4. Collapsing Stars  47

   5. Completely Cuckoo  66

   6. Radio Days  85

   7. Wheelerisms  100

   8. Singularities  118

   9. Unification Woes  137

   10. Seeing Gravity  152

   11. The Dark Universe  173

   12. The End of Spacetime  193

   13. A Spectacular Extrapolation  209

   14. Something Is Going to Happen  223

Acknowledgments  237

Notes  239

Bibliography  261

Index  275

Product Details

ISBN:
9780547554891
Subtitle:
A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity
Author:
Ferreira, Pedro G.
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Subject:
Relativity
Subject:
History of Science-General
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20140204
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Relativity Theory

The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity New Hardcover
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Product details 304 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - English 9780547554891 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "First formulated by Einstein in 1907, two years after publishing his special theory of relativity, the general theory of relativity has endured some hard times, having been challenged by quantum mechanics in the 1930s and by dialectical materialism in the Soviet Union during Stalin's reign. Even Einstein doubted some of his early conclusions. But Ferreira, a professor of astrophysics at Oxford, shares the story of general relativity's revival and application to previously unobservable objects like quasars and black holes. Ferreira's book is also about the people who find joy and excitement in discovering the secrets of the universe. With palpable delight, Ferreira details false starts, chance discoveries, and the vindication of long-ridiculed ideas that emerged from the work that predicted singularities, M-theory, and dark energy. He also shows that Einstein didn't work in a vacuum; international collaboration made confirmation of his theory possible, while overturning some initial conclusions. Perhaps most importantly, Ferreira's clear explanations offer a wonderful look into a world of those who tackle the hard math that is 'the key to understanding the history of the universe, the origin of time, and the evolution of... the cosmos.' Agent: Patrick Walsh, Conville & Walsh (U.K.)." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "It's been a heck of a century for relativity, and The Perfect Theory is a perfect guide for this most beloved branch of modern physics."
"Review" by , "No book better prepares armchair physicists for the intellectual excitement ahead!"
"Review" by , "Ferreira does not downplay relativity's complexity and avoids the easy route of oversimplifying it into a cosmic magic show. The result is one of the best popular accounts of how Einstein and his followers have been trying to explain the universe for decades."
"Synopsis" by , On the eve of the theory's 100th birthday, here is the first complete biography of Einstein's theory of general relativity, revealing the personal feuds and ideological battles, the decades of neglect, the resurgence, and now, the deep questioning of a theory that has given us black holes, dark energy, and modern cosmology.
"Synopsis" by , At the core of Einstein's general theory of relativity are a set of equations that explain the relationship among gravity, space, and time — possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics. For over a century, physicists have been exploring, debating, and at times neglecting Einstein's theory in their quest to uncover the history of the universe, the origin of time, and the evolution of solar systems, stars, and galaxies.

In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, Pedro Ferreira explains the theory through the human drama surrounding it: the personal feuds and intellectual battles of the biggest names in twentieth-century physics, from Einstein and Eddington to Hawking and Penrose.

We are in the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics. As scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory engagingly reveals the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led, and where it can still take us.

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