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Einstein: His Life and Universe (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 13. Mai 2008

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As a scientist, Albert Einstein is undoubtedly the most epic among 20th-century thinkers. Albert Einstein as a man, however, has been a much harder portrait to paint, and what we know of him as a husband, father, and friend is fragmentary at best. With Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson (author of the bestselling biographies Benjamin Franklin and Kissinger) brings Einstein's experience of life, love, and intellectual discovery into brilliant focus. The book is the first biography to tackle Einstein's enormous volume of personal correspondence that heretofore had been sealed from the public, and it's hard to imagine another book that could do such a richly textured and complicated life as Einstein's the same thoughtful justice. Isaacson is a master of the form and this latest opus is at once arresting and wonderfully revelatory. --Anne Bartholomew

Read "The Light-Beam Rider," the first chapter of Walter Isaacson's Einstein: His Life and Universe.


Five Questions for Walter Isaacson

Amazon.com: What kind of scientific education did you have to give yourself to be able to understand and explain Einstein's ideas?

Isaacson: I've always loved science, and I had a group of great physicists--such as Brian Greene, Lawrence Krauss, and Murray Gell-Mann--who tutored me, helped me learn the physics, and checked various versions of my book. I also learned the tensor calculus underlying general relativity, but tried to avoid spending too much time on it in the book. I wanted to capture the imaginative beauty of Einstein's scientific leaps, but I hope folks who want to delve more deeply into the science will read Einstein books by such scientists as Abraham Pais, Jeremy Bernstein, Brian Greene, and others.

Amazon.com: That Einstein was a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office when he revolutionized our understanding of the physical world has often been treated as ironic or even absurd. But you argue that in many ways his time there fostered his discoveries. Could you explain?

Isaacson: I think he was lucky to be at the patent office rather than serving as an acolyte in the academy trying to please senior professors and teach the conventional wisdom. As a patent examiner, he got to visualize the physical realities underlying scientific concepts. He had a boss who told him to question every premise and assumption. And as Peter Galison shows in Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps, many of the patent applications involved synchronizing clocks using signals that traveled at the speed of light. So with his office-mate Michele Besso as a sounding board, he was primed to make the leap to special relativity.

Amazon.com: That time in the patent office makes him sound far more like a practical scientist and tinkerer than the usual image of the wild-haired professor, and more like your previous biographical subject, the multitalented but eminently earthly Benjamin Franklin. Did you see connections between them?

Isaacson: I like writing about creativity, and that's what Franklin and Einstein shared. They also had great curiosity and imagination. But Franklin was a more practical man who was not very theoretical, and Einstein was the opposite in that regard.

Amazon.com: Of the many legends that have accumulated around Einstein, what did you find to be least true? Most true?

Isaacson: The least true legend is that he failed math as a schoolboy. He was actually great in math, because he could visualize equations. He knew they were nature's brushstrokes for painting her wonders. For example, he could look at Maxwell's equations and marvel at what it would be like to ride alongside a light wave, and he could look at Max Planck's equations about radiation and realize that Planck's constant meant that light was a particle as well as a wave. The most true legend is how rebellious and defiant of authority he was. You see it in his politics, his personal life, and his science.

Amazon.com: At Time and CNN and the Aspen Institute, you've worked with many of the leading thinkers and leaders of the day. Now that you've had the chance to get to know Einstein so well, did he remind you of anyone from our day who shares at least some of his remarkable qualities?

Isaacson: There are many creative scientists, most notably Stephen Hawking, who wrote the essay on Einstein as "Person of the Century" when I was editor of Time. In the world of technology, Steve Jobs has the same creative imagination and ability to think differently that distinguished Einstein, and Bill Gates has the same intellectual intensity. I wish I knew politicians who had the creativity and human instincts of Einstein, or for that matter the wise feel for our common values of Benjamin Franklin.


More to Explore


Benjamin Franklin: An American Life


Kissinger: A Biography

The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made

-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.

Pressestimmen

"Walter Isaacson has captured the complete Einstein. With an effortless style that belies a sharp attention to detail and scientific accuracy, Isaacson takes us on a soaring journey through the life, mind, and science of the man who changed our view of the universe." -- Brian Greene, Professor of Physics at Columbia and author of The Fabric of the Cosmos

"This book does an amazing job getting the science right and the man revealed." -- Sylvester James Gates, Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland

"This book will be widely and deservedly admired. It is excellently readable and combines the personal and the scientific aspects of Einstein's life in a graceful way." -- Gerald Holton, Professor of Physics at Harvard and author of Einstein, History, and Other Passions

"Once again Walter Isaacson has produced a most valuable biography of a great man about whom much has already been written. It helps that he has had access to important new material. He met the challenge of dealing with his subject as a human being and describing profound ideas in physics. His biography is a pleasure to read and makes the great physicist come alive." -- Murray Gell-Mann, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics and author of The Quark and the Jaguar

"With unmatched narrative skill, Isaacson has managed the extraordinary feat of preserving Einstein's monumental stature while at the same time bringing him to such vivid life that we come to feel as if he could be walking in our midst. This is a terrific work." -- Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

"Isaacson's treatment of Einstein's scientific work is excellent: accurate, complete, and just the right level of detail for the general reader. Taking advantage of the wealth of recently uncovered historical material, he has produced the most readable biography of Einstein yet." -- A. Douglas Stone, Professor of Physics at Yale

"This is a brilliant intellectual tapestry -- and a great read. Skillfully weaving Einstein's revolutionary scientific achievements, his prolific political initiatives, his complex personal life, and his fascinating personality, Isaacson has transformed the transformer of the twentieth century into a beacon for the twenty-first century." -- Martin J. Sherwin, coauthor of American Prometheus:The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for biography

"I found so much to admire; there are many places where I just had to cheer what Isaacson had written." -- Dudley Herschbach, Professor of Science at Harvard

"Isaacson has written a crisp, engaging, and refreshing biography, one that beautifully masters the historical literature and offers many new insights into Einstein's work and life." -- Diana Kormos Buchwald, General Editor of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein

"Isaacson has admirably succeeded in weaving together the complex threads of Einstein's personal and scientific life to paint a superb portrait." -- Arthur I. Miller, author of Einstein, Picasso

“This is a biography that happens to be treatise on creativity. I was about to say scientific creativity, but I think I mean creativity itself. It shows us the creative exuberance of a man with an extraordinary visual imagination, able to recast certain problems in surprising ways.” (Ian McEwan)

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