Authors: Walter Isaacson
ALSO BY WALTER ISAACSON
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(with Evan Thomas)
Pro and Con
HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE
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Copyright © 2007 by Walter Isaacson
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Endpapers: Alan Richards, Princeton University Library
Frontispiece: Ullstein Bilderdienst/The Granger Collection, New York
Illustration credits are on page 679.
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Einstein : his life and universe / Walter Isaacson.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Einstein, Albert, 1879–1955. 2. Physicists—Biography. 3. Einstein, Albert, 1879–1955—Friends and associates. 4. Relativity (Physics). 5. Unified field theories. I. Title.
To my father, the nicest, smartest, and most moral man I know
In Santa Barbara, 1933
Life is like riding a bicycle.
To keep your balance you must keep moving.
INSTEIN, IN A LETTER TO HIS SON
Diana Kormos Buchwald, the general editor of Einstein’s papers, read this book meticulously and made copious comments and corrections through many drafts. In addition, she helped me get early and complete access to the wealth of new Einstein papers that became available in 2006, and guided me through them. She was also a gracious host and facilitator during my trips to the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech. She has a passion for her work and a delightful sense of humor, which would have pleased her subject.
Two of her associates were also very helpful in guiding me through the newly available papers as well as untapped riches in the older archival material. Tilman Sauer, who likewise checked and annotated this book, in particular vetted the sections on Einstein’s quest for the equations of general relativity and his pursuit of a unified field theory. Ze’ev Rosenkranz, the historical editor of the papers, provided insights on Einstein’s attitudes toward Germany and his Jewish heritage. He was formerly curator of the Einstein archives at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Barbara Wolff, who is now at those archives at Hebrew University, did a careful fact-checking of every page of the manuscript, making fastidious corrections large and small. She warned that she has a reputation as a nitpicker, but I am very grateful for each and every nit she found. I also appreciate the encouragement given by Roni Grosz, the curator there.
Brian Greene, the Columbia University physicist and author of
Fabric of the Cosmos,
was an indispensable friend and editor. He talked me through numerous revisions, honed the wording of the science passages, and read the final manuscript. He is a master of both science and language. In addition to his work on string theory, he and his wife, Tracy Day, are organizing an annual science festival in New York City, which will help spread the enthusiasm for physics so evident in his work and books.
Lawrence Krauss, professor of physics at Case Western Reserve and author of
Hiding in the Mirror,
also read my manuscript, vetted the sections on special relativity, general relativity, and cosmology, and offered many good suggestions and corrections. He, too, has an infectious enthusiasm for physics.
Krauss helped me enlist a protégé of his at Case, Craig J. Copi, who teaches relativity there. I hired him to do a thorough checking of the science and math, and I am grateful for his diligent edits.
Douglas Stone, professor of physics at Yale, also vetted the science in the book. A condensed matter theorist, he is writing what will be an important book on Einstein’s contributions to quantum mechanics. In addition to checking my science sections, he helped me write the chapters on the 1905 light quanta paper, quantum theory, Bose-Einstein statistics, and kinetic theory.
Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics, was a delightful and passionate guide from the beginning to the end of this project. He helped me revise early drafts, edited and corrected the chapters on relativity and quantum mechanics, and helped draft sections that explained Einstein’s objections to quantum uncertainty. With his combination of erudition and humor, and his feel for the personalities involved, he made the process a great joy.
Arthur I. Miller, emeritus professor of history and philosophy of science at University College, London, is the author of
Empire of the Stars.
He read and reread the versions of my scientific chapters and helped with numerous revisions, especially on special relativity (about which he wrote a pioneering book), general relativity, and quantum theory.
Sylvester James Gates Jr., a physics professor at the University of Maryland, agreed to read my manuscript when he came out to Aspen for
a conference on Einstein. He did a comprehensive edit filled with smart comments and rephrasing of certain scientific passages.