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My Einstein: Essays by Twenty-four of the World's Leading Thinkers on the Man, His Work, and His Legacy [Hardcover]

by John Brockman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 25, 2006 0375423451 978-0375423451 First Edition
Albert Einstein’s bold mark on our understanding of the world, which has persisted now for more than a century, shows no sign of fading. On the contrary, Einstein and his work promise to inspire, enlighten, and confound us for decades—indeed, for centuries—to come.

In this fascinating volume, today’s foremost scientists discuss their own versions and visions of Einstein: how he has influenced their worldviews, their ideas, their science, and their professional and personal lives. These twenty-four essays are a testament to the power of scientific legacy and are essential reading for scientist and layperson alike.

Contributors include:
• Roger Highfield on the Einstein myth
• John Archibald Wheeler on his meetings with Einstein
• Gino C. Segrè, Lee Smolin, and Anton Zeilinger on Einstein’s difficulties with quantum theory
• Leon M. Lederman on the special theory of relativity
• Frank J. Tipler on why Einstein should be seen as a scientific reactionary rather than a scientific revolutionary

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

*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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375423451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375423451
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,920,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The founder and publisher of the on-line science salon, John Brockman is the editor of THIS WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING, WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA?, WHAT WE BELIEVE BUT CANNOT PROVE. He is the CEO of the literary agency Brockman Inc. and lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read to give your life some direction August 14, 2007
He's no Einstein" is a crass but possibly fitting denouncement of a student who shows little academic potential. Most have at least heard of Albert Einstein, however, or are able to quote his most famous formula: E = mc2. Perhaps it is not common knowledge that Einstein's greatest accomplishments were completed in humble circumstances. When not working as a patent clerk by day, Einstein was feverishly working on experiments to reconcile quantum mechanics and electromagnetism that would forever change the face of science. Undiscovered protégés, who burn the candle at both ends, can find inspiration in Einstein's example.

Personal gems, such as the cumbersome nature of scientific discovery while employed otherwise, are sprinkled throughout My Einstein: a compilation of two dozen essays by modern scientists who were influenced by Einstein. Each scientist extols some detail about Einstein as the motivation to actually enter scientific careers themselves. Many of the writers point out that Einstein had an entirely different way of looking at nature-and they were inspired to enter theoretical physics to recapture some of his cavalier thinking style. One can not intelligently discuss the modern research of theoretical physicists without grappling with Einstein's original ideas.

The casual reader will find the depth to which the writers explain their own scientific prowess a little cumbersome-if not downright boring. Weaving a tale of their own technical competence initially, most writers return to a common idea about Einstein: his best work derived when he was young. These scientists steer the reader away from the image of Einstein as a disheveled, wild-haired, tongue-poking-out mad scientist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Other Scientists Look At Einstein May 6, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those wanting to know how other scientists view Einstein's work this is an essential book.
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Science buffs will likely recognize many, if not most, of the names of the 24 contributors to this fascinating book of essays on Einstein. In a completely painless way, the reader is guided through various discussions on Einstein and parts of his life but mainly his science. As can be expected in a book such as this, there is much repetition, from one essay to the next, with regards to some of the highlights in Einstein's life: the cosmological constant (his "greatest blunder"), his favorite sayings, e.g., "God does not play dice", his passionate dissatisfaction with quantum mechanics, his "questionable" work on a unified field theory, etc. With perhaps one exception, the writing styles are very similar in that they are clear, friendly, focused, authoritative and engaging. Although the book was obviously written for a broad audience, it is likely that science buffs will relish it the most.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
MY EINSTEIN: ESSAYS BY TWENTY-FOUR OF THE WORLD'S LEADING THINKERS ON THE MAN, HIS WORK, AND HIS LEGACY could've been reviewed in our science section but is reviewed here for its detailed surveys by leading scientists, historians and contemporaries. These essays comment and reflect on the man, his contributions and how he influenced their worldviews and methods: even more than a legacy to Einstein's genius, they offer important insights into Einstein's lasting legacy and his life.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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