God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe

God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe

by Amir D. Aczel
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Overview

God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe by Amir D. Aczel

During television's early days, a popular commercial featured a child asking, "Why's the sky blue, daddy?" The father assured the child the answer could be found in the encyclopedia the ad was selling. Today's scientists still gaze at the skies with childlike wonder. But the questions they ask are far from childlike: What does it mean when we say the universe is curved? Why is the cosmos expanding at a constantly accelerating rate? How are the forces affecting the stars and planets related to those affecting the tiniest sub-atomic particles within a single atom? In God's Equation, Amir Aczel explains how physicists, astronomers and cosmologists are trying to find the answers in Einstein's theories, non-Euclidean geometry and advanced mathematics. The story begins with Einstein's general theory of relativity, which proposed that the universe is curved, that gravity is not a force, as Newton believed, but a curved field created by the presence of mass, and that the presence of mass will make light bend. In 1919, studies of a total solar eclipse showed that starlight did, in fact, bend around the sun. The headlines that followed this discovery turned Einstein into the world's first "media star" and its most famous scientist since Newton. More importantly, it set the direction for most of the twentieth century's research into physics, astronomy and cosmology, and influenced everything from the development of nuclear energy to quantum theory and mathematics.

Einstein himself spent the rest of his life looking for a "unified field theory," literally a "theory of everything" that would explain both the very small (the world of sub-atomic particles and quantum theory) and the very large (the expanding universe). He called his search an attempt to understand "God's thoughts" when the cosmos was created. The equation in that theory would be the human approximation of "God's Equation." Einstein never did complete his unified field theory, but his "cosmological constant," a concept he invented and then discarded, may prove to be a crucial component. This fascinating book, however, is not only about ideas, but also the people pursuing them. Each "character" in this dramatic story, Einstein as well as the contemporary scientists who are building on his work, emerges as a vivid and complex human being. Featured too are photographs of these intriguing personalities, plus explanatory charts, diagrams and other graphics, including several mind-bending (and unexpectedly appropriate) pictures by the brilliant and popular M. C. Escher. All of this combines with Aczel's admirably clear, simple prose style to create a remarkably readable story, told with the compelling force of fiction. Despite the pull of gravity, God's Equation is a book you won't want to put down.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781568581392
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 10/22/1999
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.68(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.89(d)
Lexile: 1270L (what's this?)

About the Author

Amir D. Aczel is the author of many research articles on mathematics, two textbooks, and nine nonfiction books, including the international bestseller Fermat's Last Theorem, which was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Award. Aczel has appeared on more than 30 television programs, including nationwide appearances on CNN, CNBC, and Nightline, and on more than 100 radio programs, including NPR's Weekend Edition and Morning Edition. Aczel is a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

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God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Aczel starts with Einstein's biography and presents his personality as background to the development of his ideas and his relationships that facilitated their development culminating in cosmology. This is a wonderful historical summary. The intricacies of the math and physics are kept to a respectable, accessible, yet meaningful minimum, so those less comfortable with these need not cringe. The personalities and significance of the developments are brought to life. Quite enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
Scothomaschlindwein More than 1 year ago
Albert Einstein can be regarded as the smartest and most influential man in modern science. He led the scientists of his time in theorizing and writing equations to help determine the limits space and time. He wanted to find a field theory that could explain the smallest subatomic particles and our cosmos, a theory that was relevant in all physical things. He called this equation, which could in theory explain everything in our universe, God's Equation. In God's Equation, Amir Aczel goes through Einstein's theories and tells of the relevance today, and how modern scientists use Einstein's work to supplement there own. Amir also explains almost the entire history of modern physics, including astrology, cosmology, and the overall nature of the universe. While learning about relativity and the cosmos is usually extremely confusing, Amir Aczel does an amazing job of thoroughly explaining the equations and diagrams that are presented. What he does a better job of though, is explaining the history of the last 100 years of scientific discovery that supplement the reader in understanding how scientists discovered the theories that are talked about. Lastly, I felt that Amir did a wonderful job of blending all together into a work that everyone from a high schooler to a physics professor could understand. While I am a modern physics student, I was surprised to see how thoroughly each individual theorem and scientist was examined and explained. The main reason I enjoyed this book was because it was an extremely concise overview of some of the most thoughtful and even mind-boggling theories in the science world explained in an easy to understand way. I can't say there we're many things I did not like about the book, but I can say that relativity and the cosmos cannot be fully understood without any help. The mathematics are there, but they are not fully incorporated into each individual discovery/theorem that is discussed. This is understandable though, because higher level mathematics is not exactly prime reading material. Besides that the one key dislike of this book I had was its choppy reading. The chapters did not flow very will, so the reader has to put the pieces together themselves. Other than that I have no complaints. While most people tend to shy away from science books because of there sometimes confusing nature, i see no reason that anyone interested in Einstein or any kind of physical science would not read this book. It gets to the point, and makes complicated theories and equations much easier to understand. Even beginners to science and cosmology can learn valuable things from this book because it is well written for any education level. Overall, people who want a better understanding of Einstein's theories and the last 100 years of science should read this book. While I have not thoroughly indulged myself in the works of Amir Aczel, I would recommend his book Fermat's last theorem to anyone who enjoyed God's Equation.
podedwards More than 1 year ago
In God's Equation, Amir D. Aczel presents us with the rare elegance of combining history with the future. A unique book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book describes the history behind Einstein's equations on relativity. However, the mathematical explanations are on the light side - some are not explained well and some are not explained at all. Read it for the history - not to gain an understanding of the math behind the equation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Its great!!! You have to read it. Absolutly mind splitting!!!! READ IT!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amir Aczel does a most fascinating job of incorporating science's history with a time table of those predisposed to prove and well as dispel so many of Albert Einstein's theories which since their publication have been proven true. Amazing to see how this brilliant mans thoughts and hypothesis in a low tech age still hold so true today in the 21st century and bring forth so much greater an understanding of our ever-expanding universe.