Length: 400 Pages
How an unknown German and an Englishman on opposite sides of WWI created a scientific revolution
In 1916, Arthur Eddington, a war-weary British astronomer, opened a letter written by an obscure German professor named Einstein. The neatly printed equations on the scrap of paper outlined his world-changing theory of general relativity.
Until then, Einstein's masterpiece of time and space had been trapped behind the physical and ideological lines of battle, unknown. Many Britons were rejecting anything German, but Eddington realized the importance of the letter: perhaps Einstein's esoteric theory could not only change the foundations of science but also lead to international co-operation in a time of brutal war.
Few recognize how the Great War, the industrialized slaughter that bled Europe from 1914 to 1918, shaped Einstein's life and work. While Einstein never held a rifle, he formulated general relativity blockaded in Berlin, literally starving. His name is now synonymous with 'genius', but it was not an easy road. This was, after all, the first complete revision of our conception of the universe since Isaac Newton.
Its victory was far from sure. Einstein spent a decade creating relativity and his ascent to global celebrity, which saw him on front pages around the world, also owed much to against-the-odds international collaboration, including Eddington's crucial, globe-spanning expedition of 1919 - which was still two years before they finally met - to catch a fleeting solar eclipse for a rare opportunity to confirm Einstein's bold prediction that light has weight.
We usually think of scientific discovery as a flash of individual inspiration, but here we see it is the result of hard work, gambles and wrong turns. Einstein's War is a celebration of how bigotry and nationalism can be defeated and of what science can offer when they are. Using previously unknown sources and written like a thriller, it sheds light on science through history: we see relativity built brick-by-brick in front of us, as it happened 100 years ago.
Length: 400 Pages
Riveting . . . Stanley lets us share the excitement a hundred years later in this entertaining and gripping book. It's a must read if you ever wondered how Einstein became 'Einstein'
Deeply researched and profoundly absorbing . . . Matthew Stanley traces one of the greatest epics of scientific history . . . An amazing story
For a century, Einstein's relativity has inspired otherworldly thoughts. Yet as Matthew Stanley demonstrates, Einstein's efforts were deeply enmeshed within our own world - a world riven by the drama and disruption of the First World War. This beautifully written, moving account captures the heady thrills and crushing setbacks of one of the great intellectual adventures of modern times
Even if you know a lot about the history of relativity - even if you know the old stories about Sir Arthur Eddington's voyage in 1919 to try to prove Albert Einstein's theories correct - you probably haven't pondered just how unlikely the Einstein/Eddington pairing really was. At a time where the mere hint of fraternization with the enemy could land you in jail as a spy, a Briton embraced the ideas of an enemy scientist, and helped launch the legend of arguably the greatest physicist of modern times. A fascinating story
Detailed and readable . . . It is especially revealing about Einstein's scientific work and private life leading up to the momentous events of 1919
A thrilling history of the development of the theory of relativity . . . a superb account of Einstein's and Eddington's spectacularly successful struggles to work and survive under miserable wartime conditions
Impressive . . . Stanley's well-told and impressively readable chronicle delivers a wider, and still relevant, message that how science is performed is inextricable from other aspects of people's lives
He succeeds in wrapping up the global, national and scientific politics of an era in a compelling story of one man's wild theory, lucidly sketched, and its experimental confirmation in the unlikeliest and most exotic circumstances
Few books about events a century ago carry as relevant a message for today's world of resurgent nationalism as does Matthew Stanley's Einstein's War . . . Stanley is a storyteller par excellence...[his] riveting, blow-by-blow account of Einstein's struggle...is an unusually reader-friendly journey into relativity theory . . . Einstein and Eddington would have liked it