EINSTEIN DEFIANT: Genius versus Genius in the Quantum Revolution

Edmund Blair Bolles, Author . Joseph Henry $27.95 (348p) ISBN 978-0-309-08998-2

Albert Einstein sought throughout his career to understand the ways of "the Old One," his nickname for the deity. Not one to chase after theory just because the math worked, Einstein adopted an equation like E = mc2 only if he could demonstrate how it played out in the physical world. Nor did he believe that the Old One was capricious, letting a photon of light masquerade as a particle one moment, as a wave the next. Einstein always sought to explain an unambiguous, consistent reality. As author Bolles (The Ice Finders , etc.) shows, this placed him at loggerheads with Niels Bohr and his Copenhagen school of quantum physics. Bohr was the pragmatist to Einstein's purist, looking for theories that worked, whether or not they made sense. Bolles conjures up the lost world of Europe between the wars, an era when readers would snatch up newspapers with Einstein's latest paper printed on the front page. In addition to his flair for bringing to life the cultural background of Einstein and Bohr's scientific battle (with occasional slips: Schoenberg did not compose the opera Wozzeck ), Bolles exhibits a marvelous facility in explaining the intricacies of relativity and the world inside the atom. Readers who can never keep the three B's—Bohr, Born and de Broglie—straight will know what their roles were in 20th-century physics by the end of the book, which is highly recommended for science buffs as well as readers of biography and cultural history. (On sale Apr. 6)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 348 pages - 978-0-309-09617-1
Open Ebook - 356 pages - 978-0-309-53227-3
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