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'Deeply researched and profoundly absorbing . . . Matthew Stanley traces one of the greatest epics of scientific history . . . An amazing story' Michael Frayn, author of Tony Award-winning Copenhagen
In 1916, Arthur Eddington, a war-weary British astronomer, opened a letter written by an obscure German professor named Einstein. The neatly printed equations on the scrap of paper outlined his world-changing theory of general relativity. Until then Einstein's masterpiece of time and space had been trapped behind the physical and ideological lines of battle, unknown.
Einstein's name is now synonymous with 'genius', but it was not an easy road. He spent a decade creating relativity and his ascent to global celebrity owed much to against-the-odds international collaboration, including Eddington's globe-spanning expedition of 1919 - two years before they finally met. We usually think of scientific discovery as a flash of individual inspiration, but here we see it is the result of hard work, gambles and wrong turns.
Einstein's War is a celebration of what science can offer when bigotry and nationalism are defeated. Using previously unknown sources and written like a thriller, it shows relativity being built brick-by-brick in front of us, as it happened 100 years ago.
'Riveting . . . Stanley lets us share the excitement a hundred years later in this entertaining and gripping book. It's a must read if you ever wondered how Einstein became 'Einstein'' Manjit Kumar, author of Quantum
Stanley (Huxley's Church and Maxwell's Demon), an NYU science history professor, places Einstein's theory of relativity in valuable historical context in this impressive work of popular science. A century after its formulation, the theory stands as "one of the essential pillars" of modern scientific knowledge; but initially, Stanley explains, it went largely unnoticed. Thanks to the closed borders and national hatreds of WWI, it was blocked from wide dissemination outside Germany, particularly in Britain, where all things German were regarded with suspicion. Stanley dramatically relates how, by chance, in 1916, a summary of Einstein's examination of time and space was received by one of the few British scientists both capable of and open to weighing the theory on its own merits, astronomer Stanley Eddington, who, like Einstein, was a pacifist and internationalist convinced that scientific discovery had no borders. He became the theory's champion, and in 1919 performed an experiment during a solar eclipse to verify that, as Einstein thought, light has weight. Stanley's well-told and impressively readable chronicle delivers a wider, and still relevant, message that how science is performed is inextricable from other aspects of people's lives.