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Journey With Einstein
Apr 28, 2008 10:06 AM 3367 Views
(Updated Apr 28, 2008 10:10 AM)



It seemed as if I had been living with Einstein for one month-the time I took to complete the book Einstein The Life and Times by Ronald.W.Clark-the biography was so powerful. It’s a complete instant glimpse into one of the greatest physicists of all time and also of the turbulent times, which fortunately history seems to create for every one of its dearest children:

However, help was at hand. Another solar eclipse would take place on a day when the stellar background would be ideal. If the problem of testing the General Theory “had been put forward at some other period of history”, as Eddington later pointed out, ” it might have been necessary to wait some thousands of years for a total eclipse of the sun to happen on the lucky date”. The wait was only three years.(from the book**)

When Einstein put forward his General Theory of Relativity, an idea that was almost revolutionary, History made it possible to test and validate the theory, which changed the notions of absolute time and space for ever.

Ronald W Clark divides the book into three important sections: From 1905 to 1919, from 1919 to 1929, from 1929 to 1960(this is not the division given in the book –one will be able to know this only after reading) and very deftly and gradually he gives us Einstein’s three different facets namely the civil servant/eager scientist, the most famous scientist and the pacifist  and  finally the scientist and the stoic, in parallel with the world war I, world war II and Hitler’s reign, which Einstein’s life revolved around.  Together with various events, we meet almost all the famous scientist from Planck to Teller, whose ideas gradually changed the earlier concepts, thereby changing the physical world altogether. The period from 1905 to 1929 can be termed as era of discoveries and inventions-one of the most famous being Television using Einstein’s photoelectric theory, and the interaction between these scientists, mentioned in the book offer delight to the reader, not making higher knowledge of physics mandatory; there lies the biographer’s strength.

The other events related with Einstein and history is the formation of Jewish state Israel, which Einstein got involved in. Two things that propelled him into this were rising anti Semitism in Germany and his own identity. The book gives interesting perspectives extensively. Do read the book for more details.

Einstein’s mysticism and his own ideas which helped introduce quantum physics is also largely debated in the book, for Einstein was not able to accept the *indeterminacy *concept in the theory of quantum physics, which also tries to put forth Einstein’s ambition – Unified field theory.

In what way is this biography unique? It is complete and without the author’s bias or partiality. The very first demand from a biographer is objectivity ad Clark has definitely succeeded in that. Never once does he bring his subjective like or dislike for the man, he is writing about.  The unflinching style maintains it’s continuity till the end of the book. And it gives complete image of Einstein, not only his scientific maneuvers but also, his image as a man.

The title literally comes alive as one go through the pages. When I finished this book, I felt as though I had travelled in Time Machine for a while.

Wishing you a good journey as well.

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Einstein The Life and Times - Ronald W. Clark