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Secrets of the Old One: Einstein, 1905 2006th Edition

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0387260051
ISBN-10: 0387260056
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In just one year, 1905, Albert Einstein published four papers that transformed the field of physics and ushered in the modern world of science. Veteran science writer Bernstein (Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma) examines each of these papers, attempting to explain their significance and provide a social and cultural context for them. Bernstein's task is a complex one given the nature of the physics involved, and his efforts come up short. On one hand, the book is peppered with mathematical formulas. Additionally, Bernstein provides minimal background in physics. making it unlikely that readers will be able to grasp either the import of the papers or their scientific context. On the other hand, while Bernstein does a better job of providing the social setting for Einstein's remarkable work, here, too, his minimalist approach leaves much to be desired. For example, Bernstein gives only the briefest discussion of Michele Besso, the sole person Einstein acknowledges in his paper on relativity. And Bernstein can natter on at length and irrelevantly about himself. Bernstein's title comes from Einstein's calling God "the Old One," but very few secrets are revealed in this short and frustrating volume. B&w illus. (Nov.)
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Review

Secrets of the Old One is one of the best scientist-sketches and adds to Bernstein's long list of such successes.

Peter L. Gallison,  American Scientist, Volume 94, Number 3, May-June 2006

 

Bernstein's book is wonderful and, as far as I can judge as a professional physicist, very pedagogical for non-specialists.

Andre Martin, CERN Courier, Volume 46, Number 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 2006 edition (October 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387260056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387260051
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,490,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I just read this book and very much enjoyed it. I am a theoretical physicist and last year gave several public lectures on Einstein's work of 1905. I wish I had had this book at hand then. It "suffers" the "Adam and Eve problem", as my sister and I used to denote my father's approach to answering our questions: Bernstein starts way at the beginning and gives a lot of physics background to the questions Einstein tackled. I believe this gives a much deeper and enjoyable understanding. I even learned some new things about Copernicus. The treatment of relativity is very lucid and I think at an excellent level for the general public. Bernstein uses some high-school math but nothing beyond using the Pythagorean theorem for the distance between two points. This enables him to capture the essence and also the profundity of Einstein's arguments. It is fair to say that without math one will always only scratch the surface. I was surprised to see how well Bernstein could explain the content of the relativity with so little math.

The only down side of the book is that there is a fair number of typos in the second half, which will hopefully be corrected in the second edition.
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Format: Hardcover
The author of this book is a gifted writer. His clarity of expression is significantly above average. In this book, he discusses both historical issues as well as very technical ones, all pertaining to Einstein's 1905 papers. The historical snippets, which include several mini-biographies of various scientists, make for extremely pleasant reading. On the other hand, regarding the technical discussions, we have what I perceive as a mixed bag: some of them are quite clear from beginning to end, while others, although they start off very clear, seem to be missing a few important details before their conclusions are suddenly presented. Consequently, readers who want to learn some of the technical details on special relativity, etc., while minimizing their likelihood of becoming confused, should look elsewhere; there are many excellent books at all levels on these topics. On the positive side, this book does have a lot of information that would not likely be included in, say, a textbook; thus, it would likely complement a more technical source very nicely. Unfortunately, the book contains many typographical errors that, in the long run, can become quite annoying. But overall, this is a pleasant read, although it can be heavy going at times. This book would likely appeal to science buffs who are more interested in science history than in complete, although popularized, scientific expositions of Einstein's 1905 papers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read other biographies of Einstein but none of those gave me the "insider's view" of him that this book did. If you like reading about the interior lives of scientists or are interested in learning more about Albert Einstein, than you must include this book in your library. One star off because it was too short, alas.
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Format: Hardcover
The arguements are not as simple to follow as claimed.
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