How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.
Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk -- a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate -- became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.
These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.
THE LIGHT-BEAM RIDER
"I promise you four papers," the young patent examiner wrote his friend. The letter would turn out to bear some of the most significant tidings in the history of science, but its momentous nature was masked by an impish tone that was typical of its author. He had, after all, just addressed his friend as "you frozen whale" and apologized for writing a letter that was "inconsequential babble." Only when he got around to describing the papers, which he had produced during his spare time, did he give some indication that he sensed their significance.
"The first deals with radiation and the energy properties of light and is very revolutionary," he explained. Yes, it was indeed revolutionary. It argued that light could be regarded not just as a wave but also as a stream of tiny particles called quanta. The implications that would eventually arise from this theory -- a cosmos without strict causality or certainty -- would spook him for the rest of his ...
Isaacson's impressively readable biography of Einstein, the first to be published in English since all Einstein's papers have been available, lays some long held myths to rest ... Einstein comes across as fully man, not myth, replete with complexities and contradictions. A man to be admired as a scientist but not necessarily as a human being.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1013 words).
Walter Isaacson was born
on May 20, 1952 in New Orleans,
Louisiana. After graduating from
New Orleans's Isidore Newman
School he spent a brief time at
Deep Springs College before
attending Harvard, graduating
with a BA in history and
literature. From there he went
to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar,
gaining an MA in Philosophy,
Politics and Economics.
He began his journalism career at The Sunday Times (UK) and then at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He joined TIME Magazine in 1978 and served as a ...
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