EINSTEIN AND THE QUANTUM by A. Douglas Stone

EINSTEIN AND THE QUANTUM

The Quest of the Valiant Swabian

KIRKUS REVIEW

Albert Einstein (1879–1955) is as famous for his paradigm-shifting theories of relativity as he is for his grudge against quantum mechanics, but Stone's (Physics/Yale Univ.) engaging history of Einstein's ardent search for a unifying theory tells a different story.

Einstein's creative mind was behind almost every single major development in quantum mechanics. From his role in identifying the quantization of energy and its role in thermodynamics to his Nobel-winning insight into the photoelectric effect and the quantum properties of light, Einstein's theories would form the major core of modern quantum mechanics. Often hailed as an outsider and an eccentric genius, Einstein's reluctance to embrace quantum theory is partly entrenched in the cultural and political upheaval of the early and mid 20th century. The author adeptly weaves his subject’s personal life and scientific fame through the tumult of world war and, in accessible and bright language, brings readers deep into Einstein's struggle with both the macroscopic reality around him and the quantum reality he was trying to unlock. After the early success of his famous equation e=mc2 and his special relativity paper of 1905, which brought him relative financial stability and admission to Europe's academic inner circle, his genius flourished, and he developed esoteric theories of indistinguishable quantum particles and wave fields as probability densities. Einstein accepted these concepts as mathematical certainties but could not accept their communal link to quantum mechanics. Stone suggests that it was a combination of instinctual resistance to an indeterminate quantum realm and a suspicion of scientific epistemology that led to his rejection of the theory that would radically alter the field he pioneered.

A wonderful reminder that Einstein's monumental role in the development of contemporary science is even more profound than history has allowed.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-691-13968-5
Page count: 360pp
Publisher: Princeton Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2013




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