In March 1905, at approximately eight week intervals, the Editor of the noted German physics journal, Annalen der Physik, received three hand-written manuscripts from a relatively unknown patent examiner in Bern, Switzerland. This patent examiner was the twenty-six year old Albert Einstein and the three papers would set the agenda for twentieth century physics. A fourth short paper was received in September 1905 and contained Einstein's derivation of the formula E=mc^2. These papers changed our lives in the twentieth century and beyond. While to a professional physicist the mathematics in these papers are quite straight forward, the ideas behind them are not. In fact, none of Einstein's contemporaries fully understood what he had done.
In SECRETS OF THE OLD ONE: Einstein, 1905, renowned science writer Jeremy Bernstein makes these ideas accessible to a general reader with a limited background in mathematics. After reading this book, you will understand why 1905 is often designated as Einstein's miracle year.
In just one year, 1905, Albert Einstein published four papers that transformed the field of physics and ushered in the modern world of science. Veteran science writer Bernstein (Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma) examines each of these papers, attempting to explain their significance and provide a social and cultural context for them. Bernstein's task is a complex one given the nature of the physics involved, and his efforts come up short. On one hand, the book is peppered with mathematical formulas. Additionally, Bernstein provides minimal background in physics. making it unlikely that readers will be able to grasp either the import of the papers or their scientific context. On the other hand, while Bernstein does a better job of providing the social setting for Einstein's remarkable work, here, too, his minimalist approach leaves much to be desired. For example, Bernstein gives only the briefest discussion of Michele Besso, the sole person Einstein acknowledges in his paper on relativity. And Bernstein can natter on at length and irrelevantly about himself. Bernstein's title comes from Einstein's calling God "the Old One," but very few secrets are revealed in this short and frustrating volume. B&w illus.