Einstein:The Passions of a Great Scientist

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Overview

Einstein continues to captivate, not only for his revolutionary scientific insights but also for his complex personality and personal pursuits. In this unique contribution to the Einstein literature, physicist and acclaimed science writer Barry Parker draws on the great scientist's letters and personal papers to explore the intellectual and emotional passions that motivated both his work and his life.

Parker focuses on five aspects of Einstein's emotional nature that had a profound influence on his life and career. First and foremost was his lifelong passion for learning, not only in the fields of physics but also in mathematics and philosophy. This was manifested early on when he excelled at algebra, and later when he became absorbed with philosophy. Of course in his thinking about time and the nature of light, it was this passion to understand that led to his monumental papers on relativity.
Einstein's "second great love" was classical music, especially the music of Mozart. Parker shows that listening to and playing music (he was an accomplished violinist) were not only recreations for Einstein but also provided stimulation for his scientific creativity.

His relationships with women also greatly influenced him. Parker examines his two marriages, his liaisons with other women, and his distant relationship with his two sons from his first marriage.

Another lifelong passion was his strong antiwar feelings and advocacy for peace. Einstein considered world government the only means to achieve worldwide peace. A chapter is devoted to his efforts to promote the idea of world government.

Finally, Parker considers Einstein's obsession with finding a unified theory of physics to explain all the forces of the universe, and his reluctance to accept the indeterminacy of quantum theory. In the opinion of some colleagues, this was a tragedy, for Einstein isolated himself from the rest of the scientific community during the latter part of his life to pursue a lone quest that remained unfulfilled at his death.

This is an original, insightful look at one of the greatest geniuses of all time who did so much to shape our vision of the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Readers familiar with the famous photograph of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out at the camera or the anecdote about his accompanying Christmas carolers on his violin know that he wasn't one of those aloof, unsmiling geniuses so often caricatured in movies. Prolific science author Parker (Einstein's Brainchild: Relativity Made Relatively Easy!) brings us a well-constructed biography that shows how the great scientist's various passions-for music, learning, peace, women-existed side by side with, and occasionally affected, his work. Einstein had a stormy love life as a young man. He and his first wife, Mileva, had a daughter before they were married whom they probably put up for adoption, and Einstein was living with his second wife, Elsa, before his divorce with Mileva was finalized. Even after he was happily married, Parker notes, he always enjoyed talking to a pretty woman. Parker relays how Einstein once got the solution for a scientific problem that had been puzzling him while picking out a tune at the piano. Late in life, he took refuge from his teaching and research at Princeton in sailing, as well as by playing his beloved violin. It's a minor quibble that the author doesn't demonstrate much insight into Einstein's love of music, and another that he shows a surprising na vet about male-female relations at times. Parker does a superb job of explaining Einstein's groundbreaking early scientific papers and the special and general theories of relativity. There is little if any original research here, but readers looking for a good introduction to the 20th century's leading physicist will enjoy this. Photos. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591020639
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 2/15/2003
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Parker (Pocatello, ID) is an award-winning science writer and the author of twenty-seven highly acclaimed popular science books, including The Physics of War: From Arrows to AtomsAlbert Einstein's Vision: Remarkable Discoveries That Shaped Modern ScienceEinstein: The Passions of a ScientistEinstein's Brainchild: Relativity Made Relatively Easy!;Quantum Legacy: The Discovery That Changed Our Universe and Science 101: Physics. He is professor emeritus of physics at Idaho State University.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2014

    I am a high school sophomore and I had to read this book for my

    I am a high school sophomore and I had to read this book for my research project.  I really enjoyed reading this book for many reasons.  I have learned a lot about Albert Einstein, his passions were reading, music, hiking, sailing, puzzles, women and most of all science.  He was a simple and gentle man.  He did not care about the fame he received for his many scientific discoveries.  In fact he hated the fame.  After reading this book I felt as if I really knew him.  I admire his devotion to his work of science but I think he truly lacked loved.  After reading this book it sounded like the only achievement Einstein didn’t make was with his family.  He loved his children but didn’t always show it and he barely made any effort to be a part of their lives as kids.  Einstein knew he could somehow make the world an easier better place with his contributions to science.  He was a very interesting man and one of the most brilliant men to have lived in our lifetime.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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