- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (November 3, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812998987
- ISBN-13: 978-0812998986
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 77 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe First Edition Edition
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“Delightful . . . a charming tale about an all-but-forgotten episode in science history.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Engaging . . . At heart, this is a story about how science advances, one insight at a time. But the immediacy, almost romance, of [Thomas] Levenson’s writing makes it almost novelistic.”—The Washington Post
“Captures the drama of the tireless search for this celestial object.”—Science
“Levenson’s narrative is a well-structured, fast-paced example of exemplary science writing. A scintillating popular account of the interplay between mathematical physics and astronomical observations.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The Hunt for Vulcan is a short, beautifully produced book that tells a cautionary tale. . . . Levenson is a breezy writer who renders complex ideas in down-to-earth language . . . and colorfully illustrates the limits of scientific theory as it faces new data and even more persuasive theories.”—The Boston Globe
“Thomas Levenson wonderfully tells the story of Vulcan. . . . Looping through science history from Isaac Newton onwards, Levenson elegantly reveals the evolutionary nature of scientific thought, and the marvel of the revolution that Einstein wrought.”—Nature
“An essential read . . . a compelling story that successfully portrays how science deals with ambiguity . . . The Hunt for Vulcan succeeds spectacularly at displaying the intricate, confusing, and sometimes quirky way science progresses.”—Ars Technica
“This delightful and enlightening drama tells the story of the hunt for a planet that did not exist and how Einstein resolved the mystery with the most beautiful theory in the history of science. The Hunt for Vulcan is an inspiring tale about the quest for discovery and the challenges and joys of understanding our universe.”—Walter Isaacson
“The Hunt for Vulcan is equal to the best science writing I’ve read anywhere, by any author. Beautifully composed, rich in historical context, deeply researched, it is, above all, great storytelling. Levenson gives a true picture of the scientific enterprise, with all its good and bad guesses, wishful thinking, passion, human ego, and desire to know and understand this strange and magnificent cosmos we find ourselves in.”—Alan Lightman, author of The Accidental Universe
“The forgotten story of Vulcan could no longer remain untold. Tom Levenson tells us where it came from, how it vanished, and why its spirit lurks today. Along the way, we learn more than a bit of just how science works—when it succeeds as well as when it fails.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Thomas Levenson’s brilliance as a writer is in setting the evolution of scientific ideas into their appropriate historical contexts, allowing us to see their wider implications. In this engaging, informative book, laced with lovely anecdotes, Levenson elegantly teaches us about both the laws of physics and the less law-abiding ways in which physics advances occur.”—Lisa Randall, professor of physics, Harvard University, and author of Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs
“The Hunt for Vulcan is science writing at its best. As Levenson unravels the history, the drama, and, yes, the physics behind the now-forgotten Vulcan, he also shows how science actually advances in our world and, in the process, reveals how none of our endeavors—even our most empirical—are immune to our penchant for self-deception. This book is not just learned, passionate, and witty—it is profoundly wise.”—Junot Díaz
“Thomas Levenson tells the tale of Newton, Einstein, and the missing planet Vulcan with verve, showing how observations and calculations clashed in a battle that decided the fate of the universe.”—Sean Carroll, author of The Particle at the End of the Universe
“Scorched and blackened by the fires of the Sun, Vulcan is the innermost planet that never was. Thomas Levenson illuminates the untold story of a world concocted to explain a planetary anomaly whose existence heralded a shocking new picture of space and time. Packed with colorful anecdotes, this is a vivid, well-paced, thoroughly enjoyable tale of human delusion and ultimate scientific triumph.”—Marcus Chown, author of Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You
“Levenson deftly draws readers into a quest that shows how scientists think and argue, as well as how science advances: one discovery at a time.”—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Thomas Levenson is a professor at MIT and head of its science writing program. He is the author of several books, including Einstein in Berlin and Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist. He has also made ten feature-length documentaries (including a two-hour Nova program on Einstein) for which he has won numerous awards.
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Top customer reviews
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One thing I would have liked is some footnotes or a link to the math behind some of these problems. Or maybe they're there, but it's too hard to thumb through a Kindle--possibly the paper book would have been better.
There are some very insightful thoughts about the nature of scientific thought and method presented in a very readable way. I particularly liked the author's treatment of how stories and scientific thinking relate to each other.
Four stars instead of five, because a little too light on the math for my taste, general relativity needing a bit more explanation, and the ending a bit abrupt -- it could have given us a bit more about Einstein's unsuccessful attempts at a unified field theory, which would have added some additional context that I think is a significant part of this story.
Most recent customer reviews
More like an adventure story.
Just enough pure math.
Makes you want to buy a telescope.