The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity

Pedro G. Ferreira. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-547-55489-1
First formulated by Einstein in 1907, two years after publishing his special theory of relativity, the general theory of relativity has endured some hard times, having been challenged by quantum mechanics in the 1930s and by dialectical materialism in the Soviet Union during Stalin’s reign. Even Einstein doubted some of his early conclusions. But Ferreira, a professor of astrophysics at Oxford, shares the story of general relativity’s revival and application to previously unobservable objects like quasars and black holes. Ferreira’s book is also about the people who find joy and excitement in discovering the secrets of the universe. With palpable delight, Ferreira details false starts, chance discoveries, and the vindication of long-ridiculed ideas that emerged from the work that predicted singularities, M-theory, and dark energy. He also shows that Einstein didn’t work in a vacuum; international collaboration made confirmation of his theory possible, while overturning some initial conclusions. Perhaps most importantly, Ferreira’s clear explanations offer a wonderful look into a world of those who tackle the hard math that is “the key to understanding the history of the universe, the origin of time, and the evolution of... the cosmos.” Agent: Patrick Walsh, Conville & Walsh (U.K.). (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013
Release date: 02/04/2014
Compact Disc - 978-1-4830-0618-5
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Compact Disc - 978-1-4830-0616-1
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-547-55490-7
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