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Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter…

Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007)

by Walter Isaacson

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Einstein’s struggle with the establishment is much the same that scientist face today. It is the mind that questions why and doesn’t let go that is truly brave. Einstein was a brilliant thinker and Walter Isaacson is a brilliant writer for making this easy and accessible for the reader to understand. ( )
1 vote OscarWilson | Mar 26, 2014 |
Remarkably clear exposition of Einstein's theories for the general reader. It's an intellectual biography as much as a "life and times" bio. Very readable. ( )
1 vote KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
Quite the good bio. Strange that so many people who know so little about him, blame him for so much. Sad really.
The read slowed down at times. Not sure if that was pacing or if it was my time constrictions. I did not know much about Mr. Einstein's personal world prior to reading this and it was a solid read...enjoyable. ( )
1 vote dirac | Dec 31, 2013 |
After achieving nearly mythical status as a genius this book brings Einstein back to down to human level. A complete biography from the beginning to the end of his life. The author shows us his humble beginnings as a child to his never-ending quest on his death bed to solve the riddles of the universe. ( )
1 vote scartertn | Dec 10, 2013 |
The book wasn’t amazing, but the man certainly was. Don’t get me wrong; I really liked the book, and it is one I would recommend to all those readers who want to meet an intelligent, wonderful, honest, humble person. I am not calling him great for what he did for science, but for the kind of person he was. He will appeal to those of you who like non-conformists, people with imagination and curiosity. He is one of those few adults who manage to keep alive a child’s delight in the world around them.

Now, there is a lot of physics in this book, and there are sections that went over my head. This annoyed me. Although it is not a criticism of the author, but rather a criticism of myself, IF the author had managed to make clear for me more of the scientific theories, I would have to call the book amazing. General and special relativity, gravitation and quantum mechanics they do all belong in this book, they should not be removed. I understand more than when I began, but I have far to go. Einstein saw and figured out his answers to the questions he was trying to solve through “thought experiments“. He would imagine a physical happening in his head, be it an elevator in free-fall or a bug crawling around a branch, and he would ask himself what would happen and how does the bug see the world around him. These thought experiments are Einstein’s, not the author's, and they are the easiest way to understand the laws of physics which Einstein discovered.

Others criticize how Einstein treated his family. He was who he was, and I don’t see him as worse than anybody else. He did love his family. All people do not express love in the same way.

Is there humor in the book? Yes, mostly in some of the things Einstein said.

You get history too. McCarthyism and Stalinism and Nazism. What role did he play? What was his role exactly in the development of atomic weapons, and more importantly how did he see the world afterwards. He thought there should be a world organization that controlled all atomic weapons. Was he naïve? Could this have ever worked? All of this is discussed.

Religion is discussed too. According to Einstein, it is the absence of miracles that proves the existence of divine providence. It is the laws of nature that so magnificently explain the world around us and that inspire awe. His belief in science was very close to his religiosity. They are one and the same thing.

Einstein in a nutshell: creativity and imagination and curiosity require non-conformity which requires the nurturing of free minds which requires tolerance and finally humility. Einstein was a kind, unpretentious, humble man. I really, really liked this book. I wish I could speak with Einstein himself. Even though he was great he would have talked to me. He was never showy or saw himself as the extraordinary person that he was.

Another interesting question: was he in his soul German or Swiss or American? I mean, in spirit. Or was he a citizen of the world?

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Edward Herrmann. The narration was clear and at a perfect speed. The science sections were hard. For those of you who are reading this to better understand physics, maybe it is better to read the paper book, where it is easier to stop and THINK! Oh, I forgot to say this – when Einstein got the Nobel Prize, which by the way was not for relativity, he explained his scientific theories over and over. When asked if others understood, most admitted they didn’t. This made me feel a lot better when I found myself becoming confused. I read the book to meet the man, and I really enjoyed it. ( )
2 vote chrissie3 | Jul 22, 2013 |
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"I promise you four papers," the young patent examiner wrote his friend.
They even considered the unlikely possibility that the earth was the only thing at rest with respect to the ether, and that everything else in the cosmos was spinning around, including the other planets, the sun, the stars, and presumably poor Copernicus in his grave.
The leader of the group, Mrs. Randolph Frothingham (who, given this context, seemed as if her distinguished family name had been conjured up by Dickens), submitted a sixteen-page typed memo to the U.S. State Department detailing reasons to "refuse and withhold such passport visa to Professor Einstein."
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A marvelous book - more revealing about Einstein and his private life that had ever read before. During the course of reading the book my attitude toward Einstein changed several times. While there are parts that may be difficult for a layman to understand, one can read the book and get to fully appreciate what Einstein's genius and influence has meant to the world. It is a book about the real Einstein - the work and research by the author is clearly shown throughout the book. It is alive and very difficult to put down.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743264738, Hardcover)

As a scientist, Albert Einstein is undoubtedly the most epic among 20th-century thinkers. Albert Einstein as a man, however, has been a much harder portrait to paint, and what we know of him as a husband, father, and friend is fragmentary at best. With Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson (author of the bestselling biographies Benjamin Franklin and Kissinger) brings Einstein's experience of life, love, and intellectual discovery into brilliant focus. The book is the first biography to tackle Einstein's enormous volume of personal correspondence that heretofore had been sealed from the public, and it's hard to imagine another book that could do such a richly textured and complicated life as Einstein's the same thoughtful justice. Isaacson is a master of the form and this latest opus is at once arresting and wonderfully revelatory. --Anne Bartholomew

Read "The Light-Beam Rider," the first chapter of Walter Isaacson's Einstein: His Life and Universe. Five Questions for Walter Isaacson

Amazon.com: What kind of scientific education did you have to give yourself to be able to understand and explain Einstein's ideas?

Isaacson: I've always loved science, and I had a group of great physicists--such as Brian Greene, Lawrence Krauss, and Murray Gell-Mann--who tutored me, helped me learn the physics, and checked various versions of my book. I also learned the tensor calculus underlying general relativity, but tried to avoid spending too much time on it in the book. I wanted to capture the imaginative beauty of Einstein's scientific leaps, but I hope folks who want to delve more deeply into the science will read Einstein books by such scientists as Abraham Pais, Jeremy Bernstein, Brian Greene, and others.

Amazon.com: That Einstein was a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office when he revolutionized our understanding of the physical world has often been treated as ironic or even absurd. But you argue that in many ways his time there fostered his discoveries. Could you explain?

Isaacson: I think he was lucky to be at the patent office rather than serving as an acolyte in the academy trying to please senior professors and teach the conventional wisdom. As a patent examiner, he got to visualize the physical realities underlying scientific concepts. He had a boss who told him to question every premise and assumption. And as Peter Galison shows in Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps, many of the patent applications involved synchronizing clocks using signals that traveled at the speed of light. So with his office-mate Michele Besso as a sounding board, he was primed to make the leap to special relativity.

Amazon.com: That time in the patent office makes him sound far more like a practical scientist and tinkerer than the usual image of the wild-haired professor, and more like your previous biographical subject, the multitalented but eminently earthly Benjamin Franklin. Did you see connections between them?

Isaacson: I like writing about creativity, and that's what Franklin and Einstein shared. They also had great curiosity and imagination. But Franklin was a more practical man who was not very theoretical, and Einstein was the opposite in that regard.

Amazon.com: Of the many legends that have accumulated around Einstein, what did you find to be least true? Most true?

Isaacson: The least true legend is that he failed math as a schoolboy. He was actually great in math, because he could visualize equations. He knew they were nature's brushstrokes for painting her wonders. For example, he could look at Maxwell's equations and marvel at what it would be like to ride alongside a light wave, and he could look at Max Planck's equations about radiation and realize that Planck's constant meant that light was a particle as well as a wave. The most true legend is how rebellious and defiant of authority he was. You see it in his politics, his personal life, and his science.

Amazon.com: At Time and CNN and the Aspen Institute, you've worked with many of the leading thinkers and leaders of the day. Now that you've had the chance to get to know Einstein so well, did he remind you of anyone from our day who shares at least some of his remarkable qualities?

Isaacson: There are many creative scientists, most notably Stephen Hawking, who wrote the essay on Einstein as "Person of the Century" when I was editor of Time. In the world of technology, Steve Jobs has the same creative imagination and ability to think differently that distinguished Einstein, and Bill Gates has the same intellectual intensity. I wish I knew politicians who had the creativity and human instincts of Einstein, or for that matter the wise feel for our common values of Benjamin Franklin.

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(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:37 -0400)

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The first full biography of Albert Einstein since all of his papers have become available shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. Biographer Isaacson explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk--a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate--became the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals. These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.--From publisher description.… (more)

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