From Publishers Weekly
For "generations of ambitious young Jewish kids like me," observes Lawrence M. Krauss, Albert Einstein provided the inspiration to pursue the study of theoretical physics. Several of these scientists share their thoughts in an anthology edited by Brockman, a literary agent and editor of popularizing science books (What We Believe but Cannot Prove). But not every contributor is a physicist, and not every piece relates directly to Einstein: historian George Dyson (son of physicist Freeman Dyson) was babysat by the great man's personal secretary, while New York Times science writer George Johnson looks back at the books that introduced him to relativity. For some, Einstein looms as an iconic figure, while others actually met Einstein during his later years at Princeton. The overall tone is respectful, even reverential. The Einstein who emerges possesses no surprising characteristics, making the book seem a light afterthought to a year of celebrating 2005 as the centenary of Einstein's world-changing papers on relativity. (July 25)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Shortly before his death, Albert Einstein pledged that his home would never become a shrine for pilgrims. Yet, in this collection of essays published (belatedly, by one year) to commemorate the centenary of the year in which Einstein completed his special theory of relativity, the authors sound very much like reverent pilgrims. One of the contributors even acknowledges that he has constructed a shrine to Einstein, complete with the holy (and autographed) photographic image. Several of the contributors highlight the irony of the near deification of a scientist whose disheveled appearance and impish humor were far from Olympian. Still, the contributors to this remarkably accessible and lively volume--themselves distinguished scientists, historians, and science writers--recognize in the gnomic Swiss patent clerk powers transcending normal human limits. Even in Einstein's errors, contributors detect signs of brilliance. Thus, in what Einstein labeled his greatest blunder (his introduction of a cosmological constant into his equation for cosmic gravity), an Ohio physicist detects an insight too quickly abandoned. The same spirit of admiration pervades what contributors say about Einstein as a citizen-scientist, devoted to peace yet realistic enough to call for an American atom-bomb project. A couple of contributors challenge the iconic image of Einstein, exposing his heedless romantic conduct and his vain hopes for a strictly causal physics. But the criticisms only briefly interrupt appreciative reflections on the legacy of the greatest modern scientist. Bryce Christensen
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved