Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Einstein and the Quantum reveals for the first time the full significance of Albert Einstein's contributions to quantum theory. Einstein famously rejected quantum mechanics, observing that God does not play dice. But, in fact, he thought more about the nature of atoms, molecules, and the emission and absorption of light - the core of what we now know as quantum theory - than he did about relativity.
A compelling blend of physics, biography, and the history of science, Einstein and the Quantum shares the untold story of how Einstein - not Max Planck or Niels Bohr - was the driving force behind early quantum theory. It paints a vivid portrait of the iconic physicist as he grappled with the apparently contradictory nature of the atomic world, in which its invisible constituents defy the categories of classical physics, behaving simultaneously as both particle and wave. And it demonstrates how Einstein's later work on the emission and absorption of light, and on atomic gases, led directly to Erwin Schrodinger's breakthrough to the modern form of quantum mechanics.
The book sheds light on why Einstein ultimately renounced his own brilliant work on quantum theory, due to his deep belief in science as something objective and eternal. A book unlike any other, Einstein and the Quantum offers a completely new perspective on the scientific achievements of the greatest intellect of the twentieth century, showing how Einstein's contributions to the development of quantum theory are more significant, perhaps, than even his legendary work on relativity.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 9 minutes|
|Author||A. Douglas Stone|
|Audible.ca Release Date||October 06 2013|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #254,691 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#728 in Physics (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,576 in Quantum Theory Books
#1,603 in Quantum Theory (Books)
Top review from Canada
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I have mixed feelings about the author's writing style. On the positive side, I found him extremely knowledgeable about his subject matter. He is also capable of grasping the reader's attention as he recounts his story in a lively and captivating style. On the negative side, I found that his technical discussions were a bit uneven - in some cases, he gives very clear descriptions that anyone can follow, however, in other cases, I found the descriptions to be very sketchy and unclear (in several cases, I had to dig up my old physics texts to get a better understanding.) However, I did find Appendix 2 to be quite well done and useful. Perhaps a few more equations/derivations, even if relegated to footnotes or further appendices, as well as several more diagrams would have greatly helped in this regard.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and I did learn quite a bit about Einstein's contributions to quantum mechanics. In my opinion, the book would likely be most appreciated by serious science buffs with a particular interest in early twentieth century physics.
Top reviews from other countries
Few, however, if any have followed Euclid as purely as Einstein. It is among the triumphs of Stone's magnificent book "Einstein and the Quantum" to make clear the depth, breadth, and height of Einstein's direct and indirect impact on physics in the 20th century. He begins, however, in the sometimes shadowed area of the origins of quantum theory in which Planck's contributions are often spotlighted.
Stone explains his focus, writing, "It is crucial to understand that while relativity theory is an important part of modern physics, for most of us quantum mechanics is the theory of everything. ...Since quatum mechanics is the big kahuna, it behooves us to understand the role of Einstein in the "other" revolution of the twentieth century, the quantum one." (p. 4)
MORE DETAILS: This---understanding Einstein's role and why it matters---is precisely what Stone achieves in the 29 chapters and 290 pages of "Einstein and the Quantum."
Doing so requires writing accessibly about
--the nature of nature in areas such as light and physical forces in classical physics
--the work of Planck in the late 1890s and 1900s
--Einstein's miraculous years between 1905 and 1909 when he published (in the Annalen der Physik) on the nature & transformation of light, the electrodynamics of moving bodies, the theory of light production and absorportion, Planck's theory of of radiation and the theory of specific heat, and on the nature and production of radiation.
--the concurrent history of skepticism and eventual recognition of Einstein's world-changing thought among the other giants of this time
--Einstein's modus operandi which, as described by Stone, involved going to the heart of what was inconsistent or impossible in other theories, then worrying these inconsistencies until he found the simpler, more elegant, more comprehensive solutions
(This seems to me among the most fascinating & valuable aspects of Stone's analyses)
--the brick walls when quantum theory would not yield to all his efforts
--his shift to issues such as the nature of time & space
--Einstein's influence on other scientists, including his amazing recognition of a radical new statistical concept almost hidden in a paper by the then-unknown Indian physicist, Bose
--and the tensions, disappointments and hopes of his later years when he strove to find & express a Unified Field Theory. This was gallant but unsuccesful and is now continued in contemporary expressions (string theory, e.g.,)
Stone gives enough detail to permit following this history technically, given some understanding of mathematics and physics. Happily, in most instances, Stone offers fine accesibility to readers with scientific knowledge in other fields, and for non-scientists to follow with fascinated appreciation.
Some of Einstein's personal life (as the Valiant Swabian courting his first wife, their falling out, and the Berlin years with his second wife) is inter-woven. However much of Einstein qua Einstein emerges from the letters be wrote to life-long friends, often almost in exultation about reaching a beautiful insight, a hard-won understanding. He describes himself as a contemplative, a theorist, happiest with undisturbed time to think---and think, and think.
Readers may feel close to the man, as well as the mind, reading this book. The chapter titles are examples of Stone's deft touch, including, for example, "The Impudent Swabian," "More Heat Than Light," "Entertaining the Contradiction," "Calamity Jeans" (a particularly clear & brilliantly written chapter), and "Lamenting the Ruins."
OTHER FEATURES: "Einstein and the Quantum" is embellished with detailed chapter notes augmenting the footnotes, with a fine reference list of further reading on Einstein's writings & correspondence, biographical works on Einstein, Einstein & quantum theory, quantum theory & quantum mechanics, biographical material on other scientists, original scientific articles; an excellent detailed index and splendid appendix on the three thermal radiation laws that reaaders may find helpful---even essential---to study first.
ANY READER ALERTS? Yes.
--The reproduction of Einstein's letter to Schroedinger of February 28, 192 appears to have been printed with weak dishwater (p. 236). There is no excuse for the apparent penury of not printing whatever is worth including dark enough to be readable.. The same problem occurs in some charts and other illustrations.
--An appendix showing what else was happening concurrently in the physics community would make this book more valuable. Readers can make their own timelines & concordates but this is tedious and unnecessary. The appendix on other physicists appreciated as it is, is insufficient.
OVERALL: Five stars--actually were this possible, a galaxy for this book: Stone's originality in examining Einstein & quantum theory in this depth, the skill with which the book is organized and written, and the sense of immersion in a world of beauty bare and of true genius. Bravo, bravissimo, Professor Stone!
Which, I guess, after reading Stone, I find was not an altogether incorrect understanding, but was definitely an incomplete understanding. Einstein's central role in the concepts of "light quanta" and Bose-Einstein condensates, along with other notions he developed, turned out to be foundational in the maturing of quantum thought.
The book is easily readable but ably sets out enough sophisticated science to keep a curious lay reader interested. I thought this book was well worthwhile.