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Einstein's Cosmos: How Albert Einstein's Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time (Great Discoveries) 1st Edition

75 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393051650
ISBN-10: 039305165X
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Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

Thanks to Kaku's insight (he is a theoretical physicist) and his flair for explaining dense scientific concepts (he is a best-selling author), this brief book weaves Einstein's life and work into a seamless, hard-to-put-down narrative. The organizing metaphor is how Einstein thought in terms of simple physical pictures--speeding trains, falling elevators, moving clocks. Excellent for the neophyte or readers who want to refresh their knowledge about Einstein without being talked down to or bored.

Editors of Scientific American

From Booklist

Recent popular works about Einstein have magnified select details of his life, such as his tempestuous marriage to Mileva Maric (Einstein in Love, by Dennis Overbye, 2000) or his FBI file (The Einstein File, by Fred Jerome [BKL Ap 1 03]). Such topics are reduced to paragraphs in Kaku's presentation, for Einstein's life ranks second to his science here. Accordingly, Kaku divides his narrative into the three great segments of Einstein's scientific arc: the theory of special relativity in 1905; the theory of general relativity in 1916; and the balance of Einstein's intellectual life. The latter was spent searching for a unified field theory and saw the rise of his phenomenal celebrity, which his peers regarded as a dubious dissipation of genius. However, such lamentations were premature, according to Kaku, who explicates recent discoveries that show Einstein was only audaciously ahead of his scientific time, as usual. An expert in quantum mechanics and string theory, Kaku is an equally able popular writer, vividly evoking the pictorial imagination behind Einstein's revolutionary thinking. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Series: Great Discoveries
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039305165X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393051650
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #720,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michio Kaku is the co-founder of String Field Theory and is the author of international best-selling books such as Hyperspace, Visions, and Beyond Einstein. Michio Kaku is the Henry Semat Professor in Theoretical Physics at the City University of New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 75 people found the following review helpful By T. Scherff on January 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
as you can see from my title, i am a child of the 60's. einstein died when i was 4. i am of average intelligence, with a college degree in english. math and science were never my favorite subjects, nor was i very good at them.

with all that in mind, i was blown away by this book. it covers the biography of eistein only minimally and spends the majority of its fast paced, easy reading 235 pages talking about the discoveries of einstein and their impact on the sceintific community.

i won't try to improve on what the author does so well, and that is explain in simple terms the concepts of einstein. to be perfectly honest, i'm still not sure of them all exactly nor what they portend.

what further amazed me is how this genius thinks. he thought in pictures. "what if i traveled as fast as the speed of light, what would it look like?" "why when i fall do i become weightless?" his failure at the end of his life to solve his unified field theory was because he couldn't put it into a picture.

i always go back to the old movie "the paper chase". in it the harvard professor played by john houseman tells his students that it is his job to teach them how to think. i firmly believe that that is what the education system needs to do. teach people how to think. had i been taught physics with the concepts in this book, i would not have dreaded every minute i spent in that course.

read, enjoy, wonder! a great trip through an amazing mind.
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82 of 88 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN PLETKO on November 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover

This book, by Dr. Michio Kaku, deals with three main themes that are intertwined together:

(1)The life of Dr. Albert Einstein (March 1879 to April 1955)
(2)The all-important science of Einstein
(3)The important scientific contributions of others and some insight into their lives.

This slim book contains three parts each made up of three surprisingly easy-to-read chapters. Below I will give the title of each chapter (not necessarily the same as the book's) and what I consider to be the highlights of each chapter. For chapter nine, I will provide a overview only.

Part I:

(1) Physics before Einstein

The scientific discoveries of Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell.

(2) The Early Years of Einstein

Einstein in school; Einstein and religion; Einstein's introduction to science, mathematics, and philosophy; his thinking; his loves; Einstein and authority; Einstein begins working for a living; his marriage.

(3) Special Relativity and the "Miracle Year of 1905"

Einstein's first thought picture; two simple principles by Einstein that "mark the most profound insights into the nature of the universe since Newton's work;" his famous equation; Einstein explains the photoelectric effect; he gives the first experimental proof of the existence of atoms; Einstein receives his Ph.D.: Einstein's guiding principle in physics; Experimental evidence confirms some of Einstein's ideas; Einstein becomes a professor of physics; the famous "twin paradox;" his marriage begins to "unravel;" Einstein meets his second love.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There are many Einstein biographies out there, and I've read a number of them. In my opinion, this is one of the most concise and readable ones. The writing is clear and engaging, thus making the book difficult to put down. Einstein's theories are clearly explained for anyone to understand, amidst the main highlights of his life and times. I recommend this book to a wide audience, from science buffs to Einstein fans to anyone wanting to understand what is was that made Einstein so famous, and why.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on July 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Michio Kaku, a respected theoretical physicist at City College of New York, has created an outstanding examination of Einstein's life and technical accomplishments, certainly among the best books on Einstein that I have encountered. Einstein's Cosmos targets the layman and as such it avoids mathematics, and yet I am quite certain that it will appeal to technically inclined readers also. Michio Kaku's explanations of Einstein's monumental work, especially the Special Theory of Relativity and his General Theory of Relativity, are remarkably clear and will be readily understood by nearly all readers.

I was especially fascinated by Kaku's analysis of Einstein's later efforts to unify gravity and electromagnetics. He argues persuasively that much of Einstein's unification efforts, almost always dismissed by writers and biographers as irrelevant and misdirected, has in recent decades pointed a new generation of physicists toward new breakthroughs and discoveries. Einstein's vision was decades ahead of most of his contemporaries. His final quest may have been unsuccessful, but his legacy remains vibrant and highly influential.

Einstein's Cosmos : How Albert Einstein's Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time was published 2004 in the Great Discoveries Series. I also highly recommend another title in this series, Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel by Rebecca Goldstein. Godel was Einstein's closest intellectual companion during Einstein's later years at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton.
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