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Final Theory: A Novel Hardcover – June 3, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Touchstone Hardcover Ed edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416572872
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416572879
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,416,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alpert's exciting debut takes the premise that Albert Einstein succeeded in discovering a unified field theory, but hid the result, fearing it could lead to weapons far more powerful than the atom bomb. In the present day, several contenders—the U.S. government, a savage mercenary bent on revenge, various scientists—all scramble to uncover the theory. Theoretical physicist Hans Kleinman, once one of Einstein's assistants, is tortured by an intruder who demands he divulge the theory. Columbia University professor David Swift is at Kleinman's bedside when the old man makes a few cryptic statements, imparts a string of numbers and then dies. Soon David is off and running for his life, as all the theory seekers give chase. David stays one step ahead with the help of the beautiful Monique Reynolds, another physicist. Alpert, a Scientific American columnist, sticks to proper thriller structure while imparting interesting and accessible science. The relentless action, including one giant twist and plenty of smaller ones, builds to a pulse-pounding conclusion. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Although David Swift wanted to become a scientist like his beloved professor, Dr. Hans Kleinman, he couldn’t manage the math. Instead, he wrote a best-selling book about Albert Einstein. Now Swift is shocked to learn that his elderly mentor has been brutally tortured. With his dying breaths, Kleinman tells Swift that, contrary to common knowledge, Einstein did complete his unified field theory, but the consequences were so catastrophic, he kept it secret. Now the feds and the sadistic Chechnyan who attacked Kleinman will do anything to secure Einstein’s secret formula. Accordingly, Swift must live up to his name, outrun his vicious assailants, and find Einstein’s hidden notebooks. With the help of cool-under-pressure Monique Reynolds, a resourceful African American physicist, Swift leads a wildly choreographed chase. Alpert, an editor for Scientific American, laces his high-IQ doomsday thriller with clearly explicated and hauntingly beautiful scientific theories and delivers readers to such intriguing locations as Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and the Fermi National Acceleration Laboratory. An ingenious scientist turned evil mastermind, a snake handler, a stripper, a video-game-obsessed autistic teen, and sly digs at a certain presidential administration add up to a strikingly sweet-natured yet satisfyingly barbed high-tech, high-stakes adventure. --Donna Seaman

More About the Author

MARK ALPERT is a contributing editor at Scientific American and an internationally bestselling author of science thrillers. His novels -- "Final Theory," "The Omega Theory," "Extinction," and "The Furies" -- are action-packed page-turners that show the frightening potential of near-future technologies.

A lifelong science geek, Mark attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City and then majored in astrophysics at Princeton University. Working with his advisor, the Princeton theorist J. Richard Gott III, Mark wrote his undergraduate thesis on the application of the theory of relativity to Flatland, a model universe with only two spatial dimensions (length and width, but no depth). The resulting paper, "General Relativity in a (2 + 1)-Dimensional Spacetime," was published in the Journal of General Relativity and Gravitation in 1984 and has been cited in more than 100 physics papers since then. (Scientists who are searching for the Theory of Everything are particularly interested in Flatland because the mathematics gets simpler when one spatial dimension is removed from the equations.)

While at Princeton, Mark also studied creative writing with poets Michael Ryan and James Richardson. After graduation he made the fateful (and perhaps foolhardy) decision to pursue poetry rather than physics. So he entered the M.F.A. writing program at Columbia University, where he took courses taught by Stanley Kunitz, Octavio Paz, Derek Walcott, Susan Sontag and Elizabeth Hardwick. Two years later, when he realized that poetry would never pay the bills, Mark became a journalist. He started as a reporter for the Claremont (N.H.) Eagle Times, writing stories about school-board meetings and photographing traffic accidents with his beloved Nikon FG. Then he moved on to the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he learned the history of the civil-rights movement by covering George Wallace's last year as governor.

In 1987 he returned to New York as a reporter for Fortune Magazine and over the next five years he wrote about the computer industry and emerging technologies. During the 1990s Mark worked freelance, contributing articles to Popular Mechanics and writing copy for the talking heads on CNN's Moneyline show. Throughout this period he was also writing novels and short stories, but the only piece of fiction he sold was a short story called "My Life with Joanne Christiansen," which was published in Playboy in 1991.

In 1998 Mark joined the board of editors at Scientific American. With his love for science reawakened, he soon came up with another idea for a novel. While working on a special issue about Albert Einstein, he was intrigued by the story of Einstein's long search for a unified field theory that would explain all the forces of Nature. Mark started writing a thriller about high-energy physics, incorporating many of the real ideas and technologies described in the pages of Scientific American: driverless cars, surveillance robots, virtual-reality combat and so on. The result was "Final Theory," which was published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2008. Foreign rights to the novel were sold in 23 countries, and the film rights were optioned by Radar Pictures. Touchstone also published the sequel, "The Omega Theory" (2011), which was about religious fanatics who try to trigger Doomsday by altering the quantum algorithm of the universe.

Mark switched from physics to neuroscience in 2013 when his third novel "Extinction" was published by the Thomas Dunne Books imprint of St. Martin's Press. In this thriller, the technology of brain-computer interfaces leads to the emergence of a new species of deadly man-machine hybrids who share a super-intelligent collective consciousness. In 2014 foreign translations of "Extinction" were published in Greece and Taiwan, and St. Martin's is bringing out the paperback in March. And in April 2014 Thomas Dunne will publish Mark's fourth thriller, "The Furies." The novel tells the story of an ancient clan who were persecuted as witches and nearly annihilated in Europe four hundred years ago. The Furies found sanctuary in the wilderness of America and lived in seclusion until the present day, when a civil war tears the clan apart and threaten to reveal their secret: a genetic mutation so shocking that its discovery could change the course of history.

Mark lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children. He's a proud member of Scientific American's softball team, the Big Bangers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Rumors fly that Albert Einstein formulated the unified field theory, but feared its release would lead to even more lethal weapons than the atom bomb; if true he took it to his grave. However some people think otherwise and he did discover the unified field theory and that a few still living know it.

Thus diverse players from the Feds to other countries to unscrupulous scientists and even a ruthless Russian mercenary seek the remaining direct link survivor. An intruder batters elderly theoretical physicist Hans Kleinman trying to make Einstein's assistant talk. Instead the torture sends Hans to the hospital near death. When Columbia University Professor David Swift visits his mentor, Hans babbles some enigmatic commentary in his native tongue about "Einheitliche Feldtheorie" with a numerical sequencing of equations that seem to combine the vastness of space with the nano of atoms just before he dies. However David becomes the new target fleeing for his life as he trusts no one not even the FBI except his former girlfriend Princeton physicist Monique Reynolds.

This is an action-packed thriller that takes off from the opening sequence and never slows down as David becomes the target of nasty folks who want to control the next weapon of pandemic destruction. The story line is fast-paced yet provides enough scientific theory to support Einstein's efforts to develop the Unified Field Theory equations. Fans will relish FINAL THEORY as this one never takes a breather while using as the plot's prime concept the reversal of the universally accepted belief Einstein never achieved the equations to prove his theory.

Harriet Klausner
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Hatchett on July 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The idea of a hidden Einstein Theory of Everything is a wonderful premise. And there are definitely things to like about this book. The writing is more than adequate from a style perspective; not great, but very good. Alpert does a little too much spoon feeding (telling the reader things that are blatantly obvious, as if the reader isn't smart enough to figure it out), but not enough to make the writing itself unpleasant. He also did an admirable job of working in twists that are so important to a story like this. The pacing was good, and the science was very nicely incorporated with a minimum of info-dumping. Then there are the problems...

It frustrates me to no end when an author won't do even the tiniest bit of research in order to get the details right on issues they know nothing about. For example, a character engages the safety on their revolver. Puh-leeze. Revolvers don't have safeties. (The only revolver that has a safety is an old western style single-action, definitely not the thing you tuck into the small of your back as did the character.) Things go from bad to worse when he approaches the issue of computers. A character "smashes" a computer on the floor and, voila, we have parts everywhere. Among these parts, he is able to spot the hard drive because it looks like a turntable with glass platters. He of course proceeds to smash the platters into tiny shards. Good grief. It takes five seconds on Google to see what a hard drive looks like. Or hey, walk into any computer store and ask them to let you hold one. Then get back to me on whether you saw platters and were able to "smash" them. Every time an author does something like this, it yanks you out of the story and it takes time to reestablish the immersion.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By B. Owens on June 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The author combines a background in astrophysics and a career in journalism to lend remarkable realism and phenomenal narrative to this unique thriller. A rich menu of interesting and plausible characters traverse many intriguing locations, described with superb clarity, and all interwoven in a plot as clever, surprising and entertaining as any you will experience in this genre. The science backdrop is presented in a manner as satisfying to the layman as the PhD. For the reader less enamored with the thriller genre, the book is a beautiful work of prose, packed with literary gems. For the thriller buff, you might as well succumb to Mr. Alpert now rather than later. Any first novel this extraordinary is going to be followed by dozens more--and a mass readership. Absolutely five stars.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By BookNerd on October 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book at a sale because the cover design with a 3D graphics of a running man was very interesting to me. This book does have a good title and a good teaser on the cover to entice an implusive purchase. I was never quite interested in science but no matter how I have tried to avoid the subject all my life, Einstein and his brilliant discovery of the law of relativity are just too big a legend that even a science dummy like me can't be completely oblivious about it.

The title itself is quite powerful in selling the book, afterall, I was very curious about what Einstein's final thoery was all about when the backcover mentioned that the story was based on real physics... Anyway, I started reading the book since June 2009, and I only finnished it now. So whether this book is as fast paced and astonishing as the cover describes, you tell me....

May be my lack of background and interest in science makes me unable to appreciate this novel. To me, the is just another lame story with a big title that took advantage of Einstein's fame to make an easy profit. The story is nothing innovating despite the fact that it borrowed Einstein's unfinnished Unified Field Theory hoping to build a clever plot. I said "hoping" because the plot of the story is anything but clever. The story is a typical running, hiding and chasing ritual that too many novels, TV shows and movies had already employed in their thrillers. What a bore. This story is about some professor who holds the key to uncover the secrets and applications of Estien's Unified Field Theory that will bring major destruction to the world, thus becoming target of the government and the villains who want to get a hold of this powerful science. The chasing and running really starts from the very beginning of the story....
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