At the core of Einstein’s general theory of relativity are a set of equations that explain the relationship among gravity, space, and time--possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics. For over a century, physicists have At the core of Einstein’s general theory of relativity are a set of equations that explain the relationship among gravity, space, and time--possibly the most perfect intellectual achievement of modern physics. For over a century, physicists have been exploring, debating, and at times neglecting Einstein’s theory in their quest to uncover the history of the universe, the origin of time, and the evolution of solar systems, stars, and galaxies. In this sweeping narrative of science and culture, Pedro Ferreira explains the theory through the human drama surrounding it: the personal feuds and intellectual battles of the biggest names in twentieth-century physics, from Einstein and Eddington to Hawking and Penrose. We are in the midst of a momentous transformation in modern physics. As scientists look farther and more clearly into space than ever before, The Perfect Theory engagingly reveals the greater relevance of general relativity, showing us where it started, where it has led, and where it can still take us. ...Continua Nascondi
I had somehow expected the author/book to teach me something deep about General Relativity, but it turns out that this book is more like a book of history related to Einstein, many other physicists and General Relativity. It's not like Brian GreeneI had somehow expected the author/book to teach me something deep about General Relativity, but it turns out that this book is more like a book of history related to Einstein, many other physicists and General Relativity. It's not like Brian Greene teaching us the newest development in quantum mechanics or string theory and giving us some educational insights.
But I have learnt some bits here and there. For example, the usefulness of cosmological constant and universe expansion didn't seem to be Einstein's only back-and-forth mis-judgement and he seemed to have made at least a couple more. On p.64-5, Einstein published a paper in 1939 to argue that there was no black hole; and on p.160-1, though Einstein correctly predicted the consequence of energy loss for two objects orbiting each other, he "abandoned this claim in later life" !
For some reason, the word "inexorable" somehow has appeared many times in this book and it seems to be the most frequently appeared non-technical word. The author must like this word a lot ?! Hmm ...
I haven't realized that General Relativity was so ignored or unpopular before what Kip Thorne has called (12th line on p.226) the Golden Age of General Relativity in 1960s and 1970s. Reading this book, it does remind me that the prevailing assumption Dark Matter and Dark Energy do assume that the General Relativity is the right theory to whatever distance and time. Towards the end of this book, I can see that the author has revealed his personal interest which seems to be MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics) and the like. The unappealing element of MOND and the like is that these theories all seem to be ad hoc and more phenomenological than fundamental.
All in all, though this book has not been as educational as I had hoped for, it's an very easy, smooth and good read. Some readers might even develop an illusion that General Relativity might not be as difficult as they had thought before and might want to take a closer look at this subject.
p.40 (27th-29th lines) the "were" in "By measuring how much dimmer the Cepheids he could see in Andromeda were compared to ones close by ..." shouldn't be there at all. p.175 (8th-9th lines), the first "the" in "While he was caraeful to the keep the conversation on track..." shouldn't be there. p.190 (4th line), "2008" should be "1998" as it's obvious from the note on p.254 (8th line), my own knowledge and the fact that the AAS meeting in Jan. 2008 was held in Austin, TX, not in Washington, DC (as in Jan. 1998). p.215 (12th line), there should be a 'to" after "due" in "due the strength of his feelings towards ...".