The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe First Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 108 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0812998986
ISBN-10: 0812998987
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Editorial Reviews


“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.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
  • Hardcover : 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0812998987
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0812998986
  • Product Dimensions : 5 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Publisher : Random House; First Edition (November 3, 2015)
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 108 ratings
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