Einstein's Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath / Edition 1

Einstein's Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath / Edition 1

by C.V. Vishveshwara

Einstein's Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath is a humourous and informal rendition of the story of gravitation theory from the early historic origins to the latest developments in astrophysics, focusing on Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity and black-hole physics. Through engaging conversations and napkin-scribbled diagrams come tumbling the

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Einstein's Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath is a humourous and informal rendition of the story of gravitation theory from the early historic origins to the latest developments in astrophysics, focusing on Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity and black-hole physics. Through engaging conversations and napkin-scribbled diagrams come tumbling the rudiments of relativity, spacetime and much of modern physics, narrated with high didactic and literary talent, and each embedded in casual lessons given by a worldly astrophysicist to his friend. Join the intellectual fun and exalt in the frothy ideas while vicariously taking relaxing baths in this magical bathtub.

Prof. C.V. Vishveshwara is a renowned theoretical physicist, who participated in the golden age of black-hole physics, making pioneering contributions. Also an enthusiastic teacher and planetarium director, he has written several popular-level articles, scripts for planetarium shows and produced documentary movies on science.

Advance Praise for "Einstein's Enigma or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath"

"Beautifully written and thoroughly entertaining, Vishveshwara's "Einstein's Enigma" provides an authoritative but distinctly original approach to an explanation of basics and subtleties of Einstein's general relativity and of the astrophysics of black holes. I warmly recommend it to beginner and expert alike."

Prof. Roger Penrose, author of Shadows of the Mind and The Road to Reality

"The main dish in this feast is a clear and sound presentation of the science underlying black holes from a distinguished scientist who has been contributing to their study since before they were named. Furthermore this science is presented in a sauce of philosophy, history, literature, gastronomy and imagination from an entertaining personality who needs several alter egos to show all the different ways he can think about his subject. Among the cartoons and drawings are the few lines of optional mathematics which are included for those who like that approach."

Prof. Charles W. Misner, co-author of Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler

"The unusual format and whimsical style of "Einstein's Enigma" should not obscure the fact that this is a serious book, which aims to get across the essentials of the theory of general relativity and some related topics to a readership which is not assumed to be fluent in advanced mathematics.
I believe the author, who has a long experience in presenting this kind of material to non-specialist audiences, has succeeded in the task he has set himself; the book will amply repay sustained and diligent reading by even a totally unmathematical reader."

Prof. Anthony J. Leggett, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2003

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Product Details

Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
9.21(w) x 6.14(h) x 0.88(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Bathtub The Prologue. Alfonso L Sabio, the protagonist, or Alfie for short, introduces himself. Alfie meets Professor George Gallagher, the theoretical astrophysicist, at their favourite haunt, Bruno's Italian restaurant. They plan to have discussions on black holes. On his way home, Alfie acquires his magical bathtub and the special bubble bath mix from a mysterious store. He has his first experience of the fantasy inducing bubbles that suspiciously resemble evaporating black holes.

Chapter 2. The Stellar BED Bruno's Italian restaurant. George explains stellar evolution leading to the end products - the white dwarfs, the neutron stars and the black hole. The acronym BED stands for Birth - Existence - Death.

Chapter 3. The Casanova Connection Fantasy induced by the bubble bath. Casanova appears and explains why he has been chosen to be Alfie's escort. He gives a guided tour of some of the constellations and takes Alfie on a trip through space and time. They visit Yang Wei-te, the Chinese astronomer who observed and recorded the supernova of 1054 AD as well as Tycho Brahe and Kepler. The fantasy ends with the battle between Orion and Scorpio.

Chapter 4. Footprints of the Giants A park in the university. Alfie and George discuss science before Newton as represented by the ideas and work of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo.

Chapter 5. Cosmic Framework Newton's theory of gravitation and several phenomena that are explained within that framework, in particular those that would be of relevance to the general theory of relativity and black hole physics.

Chapter 6. Moving Experience Bruno's restaurant. George surveys the ideas that led to Einstein’s special theory of relativity and the consequences of the theory.

Chapter 7. Fabric of Spacetime Minkowski’s concept of spacetime is described. This sets the stage for the development of the general theory of relativity.

Chapter 8. Grappling with Gravity Discussion continues. Einstein’s remarkable odyssey from special relativity to the general theory of relativity is traced.

Chapter 9. Beetles on a Branch The main tenets of general relativity are described highlighting the revolutionary idea of identifying spacetime curvature with gravitation. Implications of the theory are discussed with special reference to gravitational waves and black holes.

Chapter 10. Tub Talk Bubble bath. Einstein's life in Princeton is chronicled by one who knew him closely in his Mercer Street home. Einstein's ideas are presented essentially through his own quotations.

Chapter 11. The First Solution and the Last Statement George's office in the university. Discussions focus on the discovery and the general properties of the non-rotating Schwarzschild exterior spacetime

Chapter 12. Sphere of Darkness Properties of the non-rotating Schwarzschild black hole are discussed in detail. An important aspect elucidated in depth is the characterization of the black hole itself, in particular the exact reason for its one-way membrane property, which is hardly ever explained properly. Some of the common misconceptions about black holes are also dispelled.

Chapter 13. The Voracious Whirlpool George's office. The rotating Kerr black hole. Novel features engendered by rotation such as the existence of the ergosphere and the possibility of extraction of energy are highlighted. Flow of matter leading to the formation of accretion disks is described.

Chapter 14. Dynamics of the Unique Uniqueness of black holes is discussed. George's three graduate students join in for a lively discussion of black hole thermodynamics and black hole evaporation.

Chapter 15. A Date with Dante A virtual reality trip to the strange world of black holes induced by looking at MC Escher’s lithograph titled Relativity. After experiencing a modern version of George Gamow’s special relativistic train station, we move on to more literary fields. Characters encountered here include those created by Lewis Carroll, Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and finally Dante Alleghieri.

Chapter 16. The Imprints of the Invisible A visit to the university observatory. Astronomer Michael Brown explains how black holes are detected - both the stellar mass black holes in binaries and super-massive ones at galactic centres. George describes how gravitational waves would be able to furnish direct information on the characteristics of a black hole.

Chapter 17. The Celestial Swan Song The tragic story of Cygnus the Swan. The constellation is host to the first black hole candidate to be observed.

Chapter 18. Cibo per la mente A small gathering at Bruno's restaurant. Informal chat over dinner about diverse topics related to black holes. Cibo per la mente, food for thought.

Chapter 19. Curtain Call Characters that have appeared in earlier fantasies return to take leave – hopefully for the time being.

Chapter 20. Foundations of Fact and Fantasy A brief account of the literature on which the facts and the fantasies have been based.

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