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Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness Hardcover – January 15, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0674015449 ISBN-10: 0674015444

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (January 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674015444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674015449
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,219,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The year 2005 will be the centenary of Einstein's annus mirabilis, when he published the five papers that marked him as one of the greatest scientists of all time. Washington University professor Rigden (Hydrogen: The Essential Element) sits readers down in front of his white board and explains what Einstein said in each of these papers, what was significant in them and how the scientific community reacted (not very well, in most cases—for a while). Einstein started off with a bang: in March he proposed that light was not a continuous wave, but was made up of particles. In April he finished what became his dissertation, on how to determine the size of molecules in a liquid (that may not sound very exciting, but this is one of Einstein's most cited papers). In May he wrote his paper on Brownian motion, and then in June came the summit of his achievements that year: the paper proposing his principles of relativity and the consistency of the speed of light (commonly known as the Special Theory of Relativity). Finally, almost as an afterthought, in September came the three-page paper that unleashed his now-famous equation, e=mc2, upon an unsuspecting world. Rigden writes with a rare felicity, free of jargon and with everyday metaphors that Einstein himself would no doubt have appreciated. 7 b&w illus, 5 line illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-An accessible, even page-turning, account of Einstein's new insights and the turmoil that they created. Five research papers published in 1905 by an unknown physicist working in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland, revolutionized physics and provided knowledge that would transform the world. Readers will be particularly intrigued by the details of how the young man challenged, and then generally overcame, the scientific establishment, and how his ideas have themselves been challenged by others. Rigden shows that scientists have personal dimensions that are rarely mentioned in more formal textbooks. Significant insight is provided into the critical need for conflict in science, where advances are made when theories are tested by experiments that lead to new theories, and so on. Rich sources of information are given on Einstein's thoughts and those of his contemporaries on the nature of light, how atoms can be visualized in relatively simple experiments, the role of time as a fourth dimension, and, above all, how matter and energy are interrelated. Simple diagrams and reproductions of the front pages of the papers inform key aspects of the text. This book is strongly recommended for those wishing to understand the nature of the physical world, the creation of the universe, the origin of current scientific theories, and how simple experiments and concepts can successfully challenge long-held ideas.-Alexander Woodcock, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This year is the hundredth anniversary of "Einstein's Miracle Year" of 1905. In 1905, Albert Einstein published five scientific papers, all of which were important and three of which are still considered groundbreaking. Many scientists would consider themselves lucky to publish five important papers in a lifetime, which is one of the many reasons why Einstein's achievement is considered such a triumph. And yet, it is rare, even among the well-educated, to find people who really know what Einstein did. Words like "relativity" and "E = mc squared" are tossed around without any real comprehension of their meaning. That is why it is good and not at all surprising to find a book like Mr. Rigden's on the shelf now.

In Einstein 1905, Mr. Rigden takes us through each of Einstein's papers of 1905--the quantum paper of March (often referred to as the "photoelectric effect" paper), the molecular dimensions paper of April, the "Brownian motion" paper of May, the relativity paper of June and the energy-mass paper (with that famous equation) in September. He does his best to explain exactly what it is that each paper said and, simultaneously, what Einstein was trying to achieve. (Not always the same thing.) He is even better at explaining the impact each paper had on the development of physics often far into the future and in ways Einstein both did and did not see. He also describes how many people still misunderstand what the impact of these papers is.

This is by no means a book for the faint of heart. Mr. Rigden throws physics terminology around a little to easily for that. However, it is also not a book that requires a serious education in math and physics. It is very readable with hardly an equation in sight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam on August 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I do have a science background from long ago, I have been out of touch for ages. I found the brief descriptions of Einstein's famous papers of 1905 easy to follow and they filled in gaps in my understanding of fundemental principles and the history of their development.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very well written story of perhaps never to be exceeded success in one year in a very difficult field by a genius..
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By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
This short and well written book is an account of one of the greatest outbursts of creativity in history; Einstein's Annus Mirabilis of 1905. In that year, Einstein published 5 papers, at least 3 of which were fundamental to 20th century physics. Bookended by short chapters on Einstein's career before and after 1905, Rigden goes serially through each paper. He concisely describes the relevant background, content, and implications of each paper. Rigden explains the physics clearly in easily understandable terms. He gives a good idea of the remarkable ways in which Einstein conceptualized problems. While 1905 was the greatest creative burst of Einstein's life, his subsequent career saw a number of remarkable achievements, including the epochal articulation of General Relativity. Any one of Einstein's major achievements would have marked him as a great physicist. Cumulatively, the only comparable figure is Newton.
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Not recommended for physicists but for non-scientists who require an explanation of what Einstein did that is still important today.
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