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Einstein's Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath Hardcover – September 27, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-3540331995 ISBN-10: 3540331999 Edition: 2006th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 2006 edition (September 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3540331999
  • ISBN-13: 978-3540331995
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 6.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,327,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

From pre-publication reviews:

"Beautifully written and thoroughly entertaining, Vishveshwara's "Einstein's Enigma" provides an authoritative but distinctly original approach to an explanation of basics and subtleties of Einstein's general relativity and of the astrophysics of black holes. I warmly recommend it to beginner and expert alike."

Prof. Roger Penrose, Author of Shadows of the Mind and The Road to Reality

"The main dish in this feast is a clear and sound presentation of the science underlying black holes from a distinguished scientist who has been contributing to their study since before they were named. Furthermore this science is presented in a sauce of philosophy, history, literature, gastronomy and imagination from an entertaining personality who needs several alter egos to show all the different ways he can think about his subject. Among the cartoons and drawings are the few lines of optional mathematics which are included for those who like that approach."

Prof. Charles W. Misner, Co-author of Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler

"The unusual format and whimsical style of "Einstein's Enigma" should not obscure the fact that this is a serious book,which aims to get across the essentials of the theory of general relativity and some related topics to a readership which is not assumed to be fluent in advanced mathematics.
I believe the author, who has a long experience in presenting this kind of material to non-specialist audiences, has succeeded in the task he has set himself; the book will amply repay sustained and diligent reading by even a totally unmathematical reader."

Prof. Anthony J. Leggett, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2003

From the reviews:

"The only thing this intoxicating is Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories."

Dr. Richard Isaacson, former Program Director for Gravitational Physics, Physics Division, National Science Foundation, USA.

"...an innovative way of trying to explain some of the most complicated concepts in physics to beginners and it contains one of the best accounts I've ever read of the (almost Damscene) conversion of a newcomer to the pleasure of a night's observing.  As Nietzsche said: 'What would be the joy of a star but for those who behold it?'"

David Reid, BBC Sky at Night, April 2007

"Vishveshwara’s is among the more successful presentations of a most sophisticated, important, and beautiful theory of 20th-century physics--Einstein’s general relativity and its most fascinating corollary, the existence of black holes. … A book to inform, enrich, and entertain every science-educated reader. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals." (V. V. Raman, CHOICE, Vol. 44 (11), July, 2007)

"The author is a major specialist in the field of relatvity, astrophysics and gravitation, and is currently working in Bangalore, India. ... According to me, this book deserves a very large audience: it is very different from all the popular science books written on the subject and as such will be appreciated even by the non-physicists. The physicists will probably learn new things, while the specialists in astrophysics and gravitation will certainly enjoy this new and fresh insight in their field." (Fabrice Louche, Physicalia Magazine, Vol. 29 (4), 2007)

"The author blends fiction, fantasy, physics and philosophy to tell the story of gravitation theory...and the astrophysics of black holes. He not only succeeds at doing this; he entertains readers with delightful digressions and illustrates key concepts with wonderful cartoons, some purportedly scribbled on paper napkins..." (Michelle Press, Scientific American, January 2008)

From the Back Cover

"The bubbles were swirling all around me massaging my body ... As I luxuriated in this fantastic bubble bath, my eyes grew heavy and I drifted into a supremely blissful slumber." So begins Alfie's encounter with a remarkable and revelatory bathtub purchased from a mysterious neighbour named Al. Einstein's Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath tells the story of gravitation theory from the early historic origins to the latest developments in astrophysics, focusing on Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity and black-hole physics. Through engaging conversations and napkin-scribbled diagrams come tumbling the rudiments of relativity, spacetime and much of modern physics, narrated with high didactic and literary talent, and each embedded in casual lessons given by a worldly astrophysicist to his friend Alfie, a freelance organiser of proposals. Join the intellectual fun and exalt in the frothy ideas while vicariously taking relaxing baths in this magical bathtub.

Prof. C.V. Vishveshwara is a renowned theoretical physicist, who participated in the golden age of black-hole physics, making pioneering contributions. Also an enthusiastic teacher and planetarium director, he has written several popular-level articles, scripts for planetarium shows and produced documentary movies on science.

From Pre-Publication Reviews

"Beautifully written and thoroughly entertaining, Vishveshwara's "Einstein's Enigma" provides an authoritative but distinctly original approach to an explanation of basics and subtleties of Einstein's general relativity and of the astrophysics of black holes. I warmly recommend it to beginner and expert alike."

Prof. Roger Penrose, author of  Shadows of the Mind and The Road to Reality


"The main dish in this feast is a clear and sound presentation of the science underlying black holes from a distinguished scientist who has been contributing to their study since before they were named. Furthermore this science is presented in a sauce of philosophy, history, literature, gastronomy and imagination from an entertaining personality who needs several alter egos to show all the different ways he can think about his subject. Among the cartoons and drawings are the few lines of optional mathematics which are included for those who like that approach."

Prof. Charles W. Misner, co-author of  Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler

"The unusual format and whimsical style of "Einstein's Enigma" should not obscure the fact that this is a serious book, which aims to get across the essentials of the theory of general relativity and some related topics to a readership which is not assumed to be fluent in advanced mathematics.
I believe the author, who has a long experience in presenting this kind of material to non-specialist audiences, has succeeded in the task he has set himself; the book will amply repay sustained and diligent reading by even a totally unmathematical reader."

Prof. Anthony J. Leggett, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2003


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By F. Casella on April 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What do Einstein, Black Holes, and Bath Tubs have to do with each other? The relationship between Einstein and black holes is no mystery even to someone, like myself, who is not a specialist in astrophysics. But the bath tubs? The title intrigued me, so I bought the book and read it.

This book is about relativity and black holes, as the title implies. But it is unlike any other book on the subject I have come across so far.

To begin with, in lieu of the lecture-style format common to this kind of books, the author uses two fictional personas, his alter egos George and Alfie, to present the fundamentals of relativity and black hole physics. George, an astrophysicist, and Alfie, a FLOP according to the author, love to discuss physics while eating and drinking at an Italian restaurant. The narrative style of the book is that of a dialogue, in homage to Galileo, perhaps. The casual environment of the restaurant, where most of the dialogues take place, sets the tone for the entire book.

This is a book intended for the non-specialist, interested public. The use of mathematics is kept to a minimum, and many concepts are illustrated with simple and intuitive cartoons-style diagram scribbled on the napkins in the restaurant (where else?, you may ask).

The book follows 2 parallel narrative tracks: the first track is personified by George and his explanations of the physics of relativity and black holes. The second track is introduced and represented by Alfie.

Alfie has an extraordinary memory, and remembers an incredible amount of data and information about anything he reads. Alfie is interested in the human side of science, and represents the wide range of interests and knowledge of Prof. Vishveshwara outside the realm of physics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth R. Lang on October 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Lang - Review of Einstein's Enigma

Thank you so much for sending me C. V. Vishveshwara's lively book "Einstein's Enigma," which I have enjoyed reading. As the subtitle "Black Holes in My Bubble Bath" suggests, it is the author's imagination that sets this book apart, making it unique and thoroughly enjoyable. It reminds be a bit of the book "Einstein's Dreams" in that regard.

The main character rides a bath bubble into space and time, to visit astronomers of the past such as Tycho, Kepler, Galileo and eventually "Al" Einstein himself, always accompanied by Casanova, an exceedingly clever merging of Cassiopeia A ( a supernova remnant) and nova, or new star. The bubble baths are taken in a talking bathtub, once the kitchen sink in Einstein's house, which is filled with recollections of the "Master's" views on music, time, death, religion and more.

The physics of general relativity, especially for black holes, is there, from the bending of light (twice the Newtonian value) to the various black hole metrics (static, rotating, charged), and admittedly speculative elements are included - like white holes, charged black holes, and primordial black holes. There is an honest confession that observational astronomers tend to disregard theorists who adjust parameters in their theories to fit contradictory observations.

The book contains all kinds of interesting astrophysical concepts, from why the Sun shines to the super-massive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, and there are all sorts of clever quips, like a black holy man and improper time, rather than the proper sort.

The inclusion of three graduate students helps make the text additionally personal, as do the frequent meals prepared at the local tratoria by an Italian chef.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
C.V. Vishveshwara has presented it in a very simple story form for readers of all adult ages. I like authors to be like him in presenting verey abstract theoretical Physics in the story form is very commendable. Hope more people like me buy this edition ad gain useful information.
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