Einstein Defiant: Genius Versus Genius in the Quantum Revolution

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9780309096171: Einstein Defiant: Genius Versus Genius in the Quantum Revolution

"I find the idea quite intolerable that an electron exposed to radiation should choose of its own free will, not only its moment to jump off, but also its direction. In that case, I would rather be a cobbler, or even an employee in a gaming house, than a physicist." -Albert Einstein

A scandal hovers over the history of 20th century physics. Albert Einstein -- the century's greatest physicist -- was never able to come to terms with quantum mechanics, the century's greatest theoretical achievement. For physicists who routinely use both quantum laws and Einstein's ideas, this contradiction can be almost too embarrassing to dwell on. Yet Einstein was one of the founders of quantum physics and he spent many years preaching the quantum's importance and its revolutionary nature.

The Danish genius Neils Bohr was another founder of quantum physics. He had managed to solve one of the few physics problems that Einstein ever shied away from, linking quantum mathematics with a new model of the atom. This leap immediately yielded results that explained electron behavior and the periodic table of the elements.

Despite their mutual appreciation of the quantum's importance, these two giants of modern physics never agreed on the fundamentals of their work. In fact, they clashed repeatedly throughout the 1920s, arguing first over Einstein's theory of "light quanta"(photons), then over Niels Bohr's short-lived theory that denied the conservation of energy at the quantum level, and climactically over the new quantum mechanics that Bohr enthusiastically embraced and Einstein stubbornly defied.

This contest of visions stripped the scientific imagination naked. Einstein was a staunch realist, demanding to know the physical reasons behind physical events. At odds with this approach was Bohr's more pragmatic perspective that favored theories that worked, even if he might not have a corresponding explanation of the underlying reality. Powerful and illuminating, Einstein Defiant is the first book to capture the soul and the science that inspired this dramatic duel, revealing the personalities and the passions -- and, in the end, what was at stake for the world.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Meticulously researched, engagingly written and scientifically enlightening. The quantum revolution as viewed through the thoughts of Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, and other giants of early 20th century physics. A remarkable integration of science, politics and history." -- Robert L. Wolke, Professor Emeritus of Nuclear Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh and author of What Einstein Told His Cook

"One of the nation’s pre-eminent science writers has done it again. With verve and originality, Blair Bolles brings us inside Einstein’s ‘nearly perfect scientific imagination.’ The details are rich, the analogies enlightening, the overall effect transformative. Einstein Defiant is a masterful work." -- Robin Marantz Henig, author of Pandora’s Baby and The Monk in the Garden

"A terrific inside-baseball account of the intellectual battles of the 1920s, from which arose modern quantum mechanics." -- John Derbyshire, author of Prime Obsession: Bernhard Riemann and the Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics

About the Author:

Edmund Blair Bolles, "a genius for explanation" (The Spectator), is the author of 15 books including Galileo's Commandment: An Anthology of Great Science Writing (editor) and The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age.

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Edmund Blair Bolles
Editore: Joseph Henry Press (2004)
ISBN 10: 0309096170 ISBN 13: 9780309096171
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Descrizione libro Joseph Henry Press, 2004. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria M0309096170

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Descrizione libro Natl Academy Pr, 2005. Paperback. Condizione libro: Brand New. 348 pages. 8.75x5.75x0.75 inches. In Stock. Codice libro della libreria __0309096170

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Edmund Blair Bolles
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