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Born-Einstein Letters, 1916-1955: Friendship, Politics and Physics in Uncertain Times (MacSci) Hardcover – December 23, 2004
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'This fascinating correspondence between two of the great and subtle figures of 20th-century physics provides a wonderful insight into the ethos of a unique period in history, as well as into the thinking of these remarkable individuals.' - Professor Sir Roger Penrose, FRS
'Behind every icon lies a human being. Einstein, the man, emerges from this correspondence with Max Born as thoughtful, engaged and witty, charting the ebb and flow of fortune as he grapples with the scientific and social tumult of the early 20th century. A priceless resource for historians, and a fascinating read for scholars of all disciplines.' - Professor Paul Davies, author of How to Build a Time Machine
'These letters display an engaging intimacy, wit, erudition and humanity. They reveal two powerful minds tackling revolutionary ideas while confronted by unprecedented challenges of academic and public life, in an era of profound intellectual and political upheaval. They are vivid reflections of their time, but also timeless.' - Dr Philip Campbell, Nature
'Inspiring bedtime reading for the Year of Physics' - Professor Dennis Weaire FRS, Chair of History of Physics Division, European Physical Society
'These letters are a fascinating insight into the development of ideas in science between two of the great names in physics, put into historical and political context...for this new edition Diana Buchwald and Kip Thorne have added a preface that helps the modern reader understand some of the implications of what they are to come across...Great stuff!' - www.popularscience.co.uk
'[the book] greatly benefits from an extensive preface by Buchwald and the physicist Kip Thorne...The new preface also contains valuable brief accounts of the way that physics, after the death of these two great minds, continued along lines they had pursued, showing in some detail how experimental and theoretical work in the past few decades has confirmed with great precision some of their daring speculations.' - Professor Gerald Holton, Nature
'An immensely readable personal account of the intense struggles between Einstein and other physicists. They provide even more depth to ongoing efforts to determine what 'The Old One' - as Einstein referred to his understanding of God - had intended for our universe.' - David Bodanis author of E=mc2 in Washington Post
'With a well-informed introductory essay by Buchwald and Thorne, the correspondence is a delight, enabling us to trace the development of the intriguing friendship between the two physicists and to read their views on the great themes of physics and politics of their time.' - Times Higher Educational Supplement
'They were great friends, and their correspondence addresses many different subjects, from the minutiae of daily life to Beethoven's music; from quantum physics to the Russian Revolution; from the moral responsibilities of the scientist to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.' - London Review of Books
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The highlight of this book by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born (1882 to 1970) is the letters he and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein (1879 to 1955) exchanged between the years 1916 and 1955. These letters (that were never meant to be published) show the human side of these brilliant physicists.
This book has an overall introduction broken up into seven sections:
(1) Note on this new edition by Gustav Born (one of Max Born's sons).
(2) Acknowledgements for this new edition again by Gustav.
(3) A Modern Preface to this new edition by historian Diana Buchwald and physicist Kip Thorne.
(4) Forward to the original edition by Nobel Prize-winning philosopher Lord Bertrand Russell.
(5) Introduction to the original edition by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Werner Heisenberg.
(6) Acknowledgements to the original edition by Max Born.
(7) A kind of Preamble to the letters again by Max.
Then we come to:
(8) "The Born-Einstein Letters"
I recommend reading the seven sections of the overall introduction first before reading the actual letters themselves.
Special mention should be given to the Modern Preface (written in Sept. 2004) to this new edition. This section is very thorough (it has more than 60 footnotes) explaining everything you need to know about the letters themselves.
The "Born-Einstein Letters" themselves are numbered for easy reference. The first letter is dated (Feb. 27, 1916) while the last is dated (Jan. 29, 1955). There are commentaries, explanations, and autobiographical remarks by Born accompanying almost every letter.Read more ›
The principal letter that I sought to find in this collection is the one where Einstein employs the German saying "Junge Huren--Alte Betschwestern"--which translates as something like "Young whores--old bigots." I would be very interested to her any comments on this proverb from German scholars regarding the translation of the word "Betschwester" which would seem to literally translate as "prayer-sister" which might mean something like "church lady" or "nun." Einstein made use of this maxim in his September 7, 1944 letter to Born, in which he reflects on things that he and Born did as much younger men--especially a trip to the Reichstag in Berlin shortly after World War I, in which the two of them expected to impart ideas central to democracy to German politicians of the day. Einstein laughs at their naivete at that time, and makes further comments on the challenges that come with their advancing age. The above cited German proverb seems like a jest that Einstein is directing at Born, indicating that Born is now a stodgy old man and not the wild youth he once was! I should not that the reply to this letter was written by Born's wife Hedi, a convert to the Quaker faith. She comments on Einstein's use of the word "Betschwester" and observes that she, like other Quakers, do not indulge in prayer; instead they consider good works to be the proper way for religious people to express themselves to God. Her comments seem to confirm my observation that the word "Betschwester" can be translated literally as "prayer-sisiter.Read more ›