EINSTEIN: The Passions of a Scientist

Barry Parker, Author . Prometheus $28 (297p) ISBN 978-1-59102-063-9

Readers familiar with the famous photograph of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out at the camera or the anecdote about his accompanying Christmas carolers on his violin know that he wasn't one of those aloof, unsmiling geniuses so often caricatured in movies. Prolific science author Parker (Einstein's Brainchild: Relativity Made Relatively Easy!) brings us a well-constructed biography that shows how the great scientist's various passions—for music, learning, peace, women—existed side by side with, and occasionally affected, his work. Einstein had a stormy love life as a young man. He and his first wife, Mileva, had a daughter before they were married whom they probably put up for adoption, and Einstein was living with his second wife, Elsa, before his divorce with Mileva was finalized. Even after he was happily married, Parker notes, he always enjoyed talking to a pretty woman. Parker relays how Einstein once got the solution for a scientific problem that had been puzzling him while picking out a tune at the piano. Late in life, he took refuge from his teaching and research at Princeton in sailing, as well as by playing his beloved violin. It's a minor quibble that the author doesn't demonstrate much insight into Einstein's love of music, and another that he shows a surprising naïveté about male-female relations at times. Parker does a superb job of explaining Einstein's groundbreaking early scientific papers and the special and general theories of relativity. There is little if any original research here, but readers looking for a good introduction to the 20th century's leading physicist will enjoy this. Photos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 300 pages - 978-1-61592-655-8
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