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Einstein jeho život a vesmír

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Einstein was a rebel and nonconformist from boyhood days, and these character traits drove both his life and his science. In this narrative, Walter Isaacson explains how his mind worked and the mysteries of the universe that he discovered.


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Einstein was a rebel and nonconformist from boyhood days, and these character traits drove both his life and his science. In this narrative, Walter Isaacson explains how his mind worked and the mysteries of the universe that he discovered.

30 review for Einstein jeho život a vesmír

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    I decided to read this book primarily because of my fiance's interest in Einstein's life and theories. I thought it might help me to actually have a somewhat intelligent reply on the rare occasion he starts talking physics (don't tell him I said so, but he is much smarter than I am). :) I felt a bit daunted by the length of it at first (700 pages, or 22 hours on 18 CDs), but the book is engrossing from the start. The periodic and quite detailed descriptions of Einstein's theories and research I decided to read this book primarily because of my fiance's interest in Einstein's life and theories. I thought it might help me to actually have a somewhat intelligent reply on the rare occasion he starts talking physics (don't tell him I said so, but he is much smarter than I am). :) I felt a bit daunted by the length of it at first (700 pages, or 22 hours on 18 CDs), but the book is engrossing from the start. The periodic and quite detailed descriptions of Einstein's theories and research were a bit (okay, maybe way) over my head at times, but that didn't in any way damper my enjoyment of the book. When I did understand the physics, I found it all rather fascinating. I especially enjoyed learning the details of Einstein's life, relationships, struggles and philosophies. In fact, much to my surprise, there were times I had trouble putting this book down. Isaacson creates a vivid and engaging portrait of who Einstein was as a whole -- both the brilliant and the quirky -- and gives us a wonderful glimpse into how this man's amazing mind led to some of the most incredible scientific discoveries in history. Very well-written and meticulously researched.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Einstein and Nuclear Energy Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity Albert Einstein regarded as the scientific history of the twentieth century. Einstein proposed the famous equation E = mc2. This equation proved to be revolutionary for future studies in nuclear physics, but in those days the means to prove experimentally were not available. Thus, the energy E m represents the mass, both interconnected by the speed of light c. This equation related to mass conversions of energy, therefore, it could Einstein and Nuclear Energy Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity Albert Einstein regarded as the scientific history of the twentieth century. Einstein proposed the famous equation E = mc2. This equation proved to be revolutionary for future studies in nuclear physics, but in those days the means to prove experimentally were not available. Thus, the energy E m represents the mass, both interconnected by the speed of light c. This equation related to mass conversions of energy, therefore, it could be assumed that the two entities were different manifestations of the same thing. Bohr atomic model The Danish physicist Niels Bohr developed a hypothesis in 1913 according to which electrons were distributed in distinct layers (or quantum levels) some distance from the nucleus. Thus, the electronic configuration of the various elements was constituted. For Bohr electrons spun in fixed orbits from which no radiation is emitted. Thus the old concept of the atom as indivisible, inert, and simply buried, and the hypothesis of a complex structure later would appear to be complicated to generate manifestations of energy. The Manhattan Project In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Albert Einstein recommended that US President FD Roosevelt go ahead with the atomic bomb development project. Einstein explained that, thanks to the research conducted by Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard in the United States, and Frédéric Joliot and his wife Irene Joliot-Curie in France, it was almost certainly faster to unleash a nuclear chain reaction that would unleash a large amount of energy. This will also allow the construction of a new class of pumps. Einstein also mentioned the scarcity of uranium reserves in the United States and that this mine-mineral was in former Czechoslovakia and the Belgian Congo. A collaboration between scientists and industry was proposed to develop the atomic bomb mentioned above as soon as possible. He reported that Germany had suspended the sale of uranium from the Czech mines, which the Reich had resumed. This could mean that scientists at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute would approach experiments in the field of nuclear fission, too. Albert Einstein's fear of nuclear war was the result of his in-depth knowledge of the progress of research in this field. He had to emigrate to the United States in 1933 from Germany at the beginning of the persecution of the Jews. Full Article Here: read:http://pt.energia-nuclear.net/que-e-a...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    One of my favorite picture books that I saved from childhood is called Albert Einstein by Ibi Lepscky. It's the story of Albert as a child, showing him as quiet and absentminded, and preferring to play the violin rather than roughhouse with other boys in the neighborhood. It also tells the story of when Albert had a fever and had to stay in bed, his father gave him a compass. Albert became fascinated by the needle and asked so many thoughtful questions about the magnetic fields and the poles of One of my favorite picture books that I saved from childhood is called Albert Einstein by Ibi Lepscky. It's the story of Albert as a child, showing him as quiet and absentminded, and preferring to play the violin rather than roughhouse with other boys in the neighborhood. It also tells the story of when Albert had a fever and had to stay in bed, his father gave him a compass. Albert became fascinated by the needle and asked so many thoughtful questions about the magnetic fields and the poles of the earth that his father, who could not answer them all, realized how smart his son was. "Albert was indeed a child different from all others. His gaze, which everyone thought to be absentminded, really reflected a very busy mind, a mind that was exploring places where nobody else could follow. It was the mind of a genius." My mother, who was a mathematics professor and who was quite smart herself, gave me this book and frequently read it with me. It inspired in me a deep awe for Albert Einstein, one that has carried through to adulthood. Walter Isaacson seems to have the same reverence for Einstein — there is an underlying fondness and admiration in this biography. "His tale encompasses the vast sweep of modern science, from the infinitesimal to the infinite, from the emission of photons to the expansion of the cosmos. A century after his great triumphs, we are still living in Einstein's universe ... His fingerprints are all over today's technologies. Photoelectric cells and lasers, nuclear power and fiber optics, space travel, and even semiconductors all trace back to his theories. He signed the letter to Franklin Roosevelt warning that it may be possible to build an atom bomb, and the letters of his famed equation relating energy to mass hover in our minds when we picture the resulting mushroom cloud." At more than 600 pages, the book covers Einstein's entire life, with an emphasis on his "miracle year" of 1905, and his activities during both world wars. There isn't a lot about his childhood in Germany, but I was happy to see there was some truth in the story of his father bringing him a compass when he was sick in bed. He later recalled being so excited as he examined its mysterious powers that he trembled and grew cold. The fact that the magnetic needle behaved as if influenced by some hidden force field, rather than through the more familiar mechanical method involving touch or contact, produced a sense of wonder that motivated him throughout his life. "I can still remember that this experience made a deep and lasting impression on me ... Something deeply hidden had to be behind things." After being mesmerized by the compass needle's fealty to an unseen field, Einstein would develop a lifelong devotion to field theories as a way to describe nature. Now before I wax too rhapsodic about this book, I need to warn my fellow readers that there is some serious physics-speak in here. I was listening to this on audio (read by the wonderful actor Edward Herrmann) and the chapters that discussed Einstein's scientific theories were difficult to follow. Fortunately, those confusing sections did not overwhelm the book, and there were plenty of interesting biographical details to share. Here are some of my favorites: "Among the many surprising things about the life of Albert Einstein was the trouble he had getting an academic job. Indeed, it would be an astonishing nine years after his graduation from the Zurich Polytechnic in 1900 — and four years after the miracle year in which he not only upended physics but also finally got a doctoral dissertation accepted — before he would be offered a job as a junior professor." Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maric, had a daughter named Lieserl, who was born out of wedlock and was purportedly given up for adoption. "Einstein did not tell his mother, sister, or any of his friends about the birth of Lieserl. In fact, there is no indication that he ever told them about her. Never once did he publicly speak of her or acknowledge that she even existed. No mention of her survives in any correspondence, except for a few letters between Einstein and Maric, and these were suppressed and hidden until 1986, when scholars and the editors of his papers were completely surprised to learn of Lieserl's existence." [It is not known what happened to Lieserl.] The old line that Einstein did his best work when he was working as a Swiss patent clerk is true. "He soon learned that he could work on the patent applications so quickly that it left time for him to sneak in his own scientific thinking during the day. 'I was able to do a full day's work in only two or three hours ... The remaining part of the day, I would work on my own ideas ... Whenever anybody would come by, I would cram my notes into my desk drawer and pretend to work on my office work.'" "Einstein's 1905 burst of creativity was astonishing. He had devised a revolutionary quantum theory of light, helped prove the existence of atoms, explained Brownian motion, upended the concept of space and time, and produced what would become science's best known equation. But many people seemed not to notice at first. According to his sister, Einstein had hoped that his flurry of essays in a preeminent journal would lift him from the obscurity of a third-class patent examiner and provide some academic recognition, perhaps even an academic job. 'But he was bitterly disappointed,' she noted. 'Icy silence followed the publication.'" [He soon got his fame and recognition.] With the outbreak of war, Einstein had become, for the first time, an outspoken public figure, advocating internationalism, European federalism, and resistance to militarism ... The chain reaction that pushed Europe into war in August 1914 inflamed the patriotic pride of the Prussians and, in an equal and opposite reaction, the visceral pacifism of Einstein, a man so gentle and averse to conflict that he even disliked playing chess. "Europe in its madness has now embarked on something incredibly preposterous ... At such times one sees to what deplorable breed of brutes we belong." Throughout his life, Einstein would sometimes appear aloof toward his sons, especially Eduard, who suffered from increasingly severe mental illness as he grew older. But when they were young, he tended to be a good father. "When my mother was busy around the house, father would put aside his work and watch over us for hours, bouncing us on his knee," Hans Albert later recalled. "I remember he would tell us stories — and he often played the violin in an effort to keep us quiet." Einstein's first marriage was an unhappy one, and to convince Mileva to divorce him, he promised her his money from the Nobel Prize, which he was convinced he would someday win. She finally agreed to a divorce settlement, and Einstein was awarded the Nobel in 1921. Einstein's theory of relativity burst into the consciousness of a world that was weary of war and yearning for triumph of human transcendence. Almost a year to the day after the end of the brutal fighting, here was an announcement that the theory of a German Jew had been proven correct by an English Quaker [Arthur Eddington]. "Scientists belonging to two warring nations had collaborated again!" exulted the physicist Leopold Infeld. "It seemed the beginning of a new era." Einstein's second wife was a cousin he had known since childhood, Elsa Einstein. He wrote her passionate letters, saying: "I have to have someone to love, otherwise life is miserable. And this someone is you." The rise of German anti-Semitism after World War I produced a counterreaction in Einstein: it made him identify more strongly with his Jewish heritage and community ... Eventually, Einstein came around to the cause [of Zionism]. "I am, as a human being, an opponent of nationalism," he declared. "But as a Jew, I am from today a supporter of the Zionist effort." Einstein was visiting the United States when Hitler took power, and he realized he could not return to his home country. "Because of Hitler, I don't dare step on German soil." What happened in Germany in 1933 was not just a brutality perpetrated by thuggish leaders and abetted by ignorant mobs. It was also, as Einstein described, "the utter failure of the so-called intellectual aristocracy." Einstein and other Jews were ousted from what had been among the world's greatest citadels of open-minded inquiry, and those who remained did little to resist. Einstein eventually settled in Princeton, New Jersey, and would spend the rest of his life there. He was given a corner office in a university hall, and was asked what equipment he needed. "A desk or table, a chair, paper and pencils. Oh yes, and a large wastebasket, so I can throw away all my mistakes." [At Princeton] Einstein soon acquired an image, which grew into a near legend but was nevertheless based on reality, of being a kindly and gentle professor, distracted at times but unfailingly sweet, who wandered about lost in thought, helped children with their homework, and rarely combed his hair or wore socks. "I have reached an age when, if someone tells me to wear socks, I don't have to," he told a neighbor. Occasionally, he would take rambling walks on his own, which could be dicey. One day someone called the Institute and asked to speak to a particular dean. When his secretary said that the dean wasn't available, the caller hesitantly asked for Einstein's home address. That was not possible to give out, he was informed. The caller's voice then dropped to a whisper. "Please don't tell anybody," he said, "but I am Dr. Einstein, I'm on my way home, and I've forgotten where my house is." When he first arrived in Princeton, Einstein had been impressed that America was, or could be, a land free of the rigid class hierarchies and servility in Europe. But what grew to impress him more — and what made him fundamentally such a good American but also a controversial one — was the country's tolerance of free thought, free speech, and nonconformist beliefs. That had been a touchstone of his science, and now it was a touchstone of his citizenship. In one of his most revealing remarks about himself, Einstein lamented, "To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself." [After learning that the Nazis has raided his house in Germany, he made a prescient comment.] "If and when war comes, Hitler will realize the harm he has done Germany by driving out the Jewish scientists." Einstein later regretted his role in the development of nuclear weapons. "Had I known that the Germans would not have succeeded in producing an atomic bomb, I never would have lifted a finger." At the end of the 1940s, when it was becoming clear to him that the effort to control nuclear weaponry would fail, Einstein was asked what the next war would look like. "I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — rocks." Einstein walking on Princeton's campus There are so many more interesting stories and details in this book, and I went through dozens of Post-Its to mark passages. This is the second book by Walter Isaacson I've read, the other being Steve Jobs, and he is a talented writer and biographer. I especially appreciate his skill at weaving quotes and anecdotes into the narrative. For example, this is a typically elegant and amusing paragraph from Isaacson: Einstein's new marriage was different from his first. It was not romantic or passionate. From the start, he and Elsa had separate bedrooms at opposite ends of their rambling Berlin apartment. Nor was it intellectual. Understanding relativity, she later said, "is not necessary for my happiness." Even though I listened to an audiobook, I was happy I had requested a print copy from the library to peruse, because the book is filled with charming photographs of Einstein. His eyes could positively twinkle, and that shock of hair was rarely tamed. I really enjoyed most of this book, and if I had been more studious and applied myself, I probably could have made better sense of the heavy chapters on physics. But there is a reason I ended up in the humanities and not the sciences, and I shall continue to admire Mr. Einstein's work from a distance. Favorite Quotes: "When I am judging a theory, I ask myself whether, if I were God, I would have arranged the world in such a way." "I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious."

  4. 5 out of 5

    brian

    here's a letter a young einstein wrote to his pal. the 1st paragraph: more waugh than egghead, eh? and that 2nd paragraph? those 'papers'? "a modification of the theory of space and time"? holy shit. Dear Habicht, Such a solemn air of silence has descended between us that I almost feel as if I am committing a sacrilege when I break it now with some inconsequential babble. So, what are you up to, you frozen whale, you smoked, dried, canned piece of soul? Why have you still not sent me your here's a letter a young einstein wrote to his pal. the 1st paragraph: more waugh than egghead, eh? and that 2nd paragraph? those 'papers'? "a modification of the theory of space and time"? holy shit. Dear Habicht, Such a solemn air of silence has descended between us that I almost feel as if I am committing a sacrilege when I break it now with some inconsequential babble. So, what are you up to, you frozen whale, you smoked, dried, canned piece of soul? Why have you still not sent me your dissertation? Don't you know that I am one of the 1.5 fellows who would read it with interest and pleasure, you wretched man? I promise you four papers in return. The first deals with radiation and the energy properties of light and is very revolutionary, as you will see if you send me your work first. The second paper is a determination of the true sizes of atoms. The third proves that bodies on the order of magnitude 1/1000 mm, suspended in liquids, must already perform an observable random motion that is produced by thermal motion. The fourth paper is only a rough draft at this point, and is an electrodynamics of moving bodies which employs a modification of the theory of space and time. and later in life he wrote this gorgeousness: The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man. just for fun, let's compare/contrast with: I very seriously doubt that Einstein himself really knows what he is driving at. The outcome of this doubt and befogged speculation about time and space is a cloak beneath which hides the ghastly apparition of atheism. - Cardinal William Henry O'Connell and later, witnessing the rise of hitler, albert shot off this email to FDR: Hey Frank, c-squared ya dipshit, c-squared! That's a whole lotta motherfuckin' bango django. so we should figure out how to bake that cake before the other guys do and blow out our candles, yo! Love Bertie the last one, not really. but it's a close approximation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    In 1935, a rabbi in Princeton showed him a clipping of the Ripleys column with the headline Greatest Living Mathematician Failed in Mathematics. Einstein laughed. I never failed in mathematics, he replied correctly. Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus. In fact, he was a wonderful student, at least intellectually. In primary school, he was at the top of his class. Yesterday Albert got his grades, his mother reported to an aunt when he was 7. Once again he was In 1935, a rabbi in Princeton showed him a clipping of the Ripley’s column with the headline “Greatest Living Mathematician Failed in Mathematics.” Einstein laughed. “I never failed in mathematics,” he replied correctly. “Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.” In fact, he was a wonderful student, at least intellectually. In primary school, he was at the top of his class. “Yesterday Albert got his grades,” his mother reported to an aunt when he was 7. “Once again he was ranked first.” At the gymnasium, he disliked the mechanical learning of languages such as Latin and Greek, a problem exacerbated by what he later said was his “bad memory for words and texts.” But even in these courses, Einstein consistently got top grades. Years later, when Einstein celebrated his fiftieth birthday and there were stories about how poorly the great genius had fared at the gymnasium, the school’s current principal made a point of publishing a letter revealing how good his grades actually were. I don’t believe you need to understand the science to enjoy the book. It would probably add to your enjoyment. I always fell like the floor is starting to ripple with the space-time continuum when I go over these theories. And, appreciated the biochemist, Chaim Weizmann, quote. Asked upon their arrival whether he understood the theory, Weizmann gave a delightful reply: “During the crossing, Einstein explained his theory to me every day, and by the time we arrived I was fully convinced that he really understands it.” As well as, the one from a Princeton student who attended a lecture during Einstein’s 1921 U.S. tour. ”I sat in the balcony, but he talked right over my head anyway.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    My brother-in-law recommended this biography in 2007. It is one of the most incredible books Ive read in a long time. There are eleven pages of sources alone! This book is meticulously researched, beautifully written, fascinating, inspiring, and wonderful on every level. Its 551 pages long, and I so did not want this book to end! Isaacson immerses us in a detailed, in depth probing of Einsteins life personal, intellectual, scientific, political, and cultural - against a backdrop of the history My brother-in-law recommended this biography in 2007. It is one of the most incredible books I’ve read in a long time. There are eleven pages of sources alone! This book is meticulously researched, beautifully written, fascinating, inspiring, and wonderful on every level. It’s 551 pages long, and I so did not want this book to end! Isaacson immerses us in a detailed, in depth probing of Einstein’s life – personal, intellectual, scientific, political, and cultural - against a backdrop of the history of the time – 1879-1955. Extensive quotations from Einstein’s correspondence, essays, and personal papers lend the richness of authenticity. Explanations of scientific theories are clear and restated many, many times in different ways. They seem comprehensible as one reads them, though I would be hard-pressed to explain any of Einstein’s “thought experiments,” theories, or the revolutionary nature of theoretical physics in my own words now. Einstein believed deeply in intellectual freedom and he was a nonconformist first and foremost. The author’s words speak for themselves: "For the remaining ten years of his life, his passion for advocating a unified governing structure for the globe would rival that for finding a unified field theory that could govern all the forces of nature. Although distinct in most ways, both quests reflected his instincts for transcendent order. In addition, both would display Einstein’s willingness to be a nonconformist, to be serenely secure in challenging prevailing attitudes." (p. 488) "Admittedly, he was a somewhat contrarian citizen. But in that regard he was in the tradition of some venerable strands in the fabric of American character: fiercely protective of individual liberties, often cranky about government interference, distrustful of great concentrations of wealth, and a believer in the idealistic internationalism that gained favor among American intellectuals after both of the great wars of twentieth century." (p. 506) I feel as if I should re-read this book in order to copy down the many brilliant quotes from Albert Einstein’s letters and talks. In a letter to his son, Eduard, in 1930 he wrote, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” I LOVE that! Advice offered to his step-daughters in 1922 on how to live a moral life: “Use for yourself little, but give to others much.” (p. 393) In response to an interviewer’s question about how Einstein got his ideas he said, “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” (p. 387) When asked if he believed in immortality he stated, “No. And one life is enough for me.” (p. 387) ! From his credo “What I Believe” written in 1930: "….The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man." (p. 387) Read this book and fall in love with this extraordinarily inspiring mensch!

  7. 5 out of 5

    B Schrodinger

    So I 've had a love/hate with Einstein for a few years now. I recognised the great work that he did regarding General and Special Relativity, the Photoelectric Effect and Brownian Motion - brilliant stuff. But why does Einstein get wheeled out for every portrayal of a great scientist? Why does everyone feel the need to quote the guy regarding religion, education, happiness, sociology....everything? This really annoyed me - and I guess it still does. In an education lecture a few weeks ago the So I 've had a love/hate with Einstein for a few years now. I recognised the great work that he did regarding General and Special Relativity, the Photoelectric Effect and Brownian Motion - brilliant stuff. But why does Einstein get wheeled out for every portrayal of a great scientist? Why does everyone feel the need to quote the guy regarding religion, education, happiness, sociology....everything? This really annoyed me - and I guess it still does. In an education lecture a few weeks ago the lecturer gave an Einstein quote on learning. And it immediately got my hackles up. Did Einstein even teach? I guess as an academic he must have taught someone. And I had to look it up. It seems his undergrad degree was in physics and education. Ok, maybe an education quote might be legit from this guy. So this prompted my to pull this volume from my to-read bookshelf (might be bigger than this, shhhhh) and open it up. And damn did I learn a lot about the details of his life. The book was for most part engaging and fascinating. It helped fill in a lot of details on what I already knew about the events in physics and chemistry from the late 19th to mid 20th century. Non-science people: I found this very accessible - not too much jargon at all. But the wonderful Diane said there was a bit of ultra-tough physics in here, however nothing you couldn't skip. So, how do I stand on Einstein quotes now? Well I'm more open to appropriate ones. The guy was very intelligent in matters of physics and math. So make it rain with equations and thought experiments. Teaching quotes: although he did undergrad education, he was later renowned for being a shit boring teacher. No- fail on the education front. Any other quotes: although he was intelligent in other subjects, he was no genius in them. Quit it with the psychology, sociology quotes. Actually, the guy spent most of his life trying to refute quantum mechanics. And look at it now. God plays so much dice that Las Vegas is embarrassed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    The book wasnt amazing, but the man certainly was. Dont get me wrong; I really liked the book, and it is one I would recommend to all those readers who want to meet an intelligent, wonderful, honest, humble person. I am not calling him great for what he did for science, but for the kind of person he was. He will appeal to those of you who like non-conformists, people with imagination and curiosity. He is one of those few adults who manage to keep alive a childs delight in the world around them. The book wasn’t amazing, but the man certainly was. Don’t get me wrong; I really liked the book, and it is one I would recommend to all those readers who want to meet an intelligent, wonderful, honest, humble person. I am not calling him great for what he did for science, but for the kind of person he was. He will appeal to those of you who like non-conformists, people with imagination and curiosity. He is one of those few adults who manage to keep alive a child’s delight in the world around them. Now there is a lot of physics in this book, and there are sections that went over my head. This annoyed me. Although it is not a criticism of the author, but rather a criticism of myself, IF the author had managed to make clear for me more of the scientific theories, I would have to call the book amazing. General and special relativity, gravitation and quantum mechanics they do all belong in this book, they should not be removed. I understand more than when I began, but I have far to go. Einstein saw and figured out his answers to the questions he was trying to solve through “thought experiments“. He would imagine a physical happening in his head, be it an elevator in free-fall or a bug crawling around a branch, and he would ask himself what would happen and how does the bug see the world around him. These thought experiments are Einstein’s, not the author's, and they are the easiest way to understand the laws of physics which Einstein discovered. Others criticize how Einstein treated his family. He was who he was, and I don’t see him as worse than anybody else. He did love his family. All people do not express love in the same way. Is there humor in the book? Yes, mostly in some of the things Einstein said. You get history too. McCarthyism and Stalinism and Nazism. What role did he play? What was his role exactly in the development of atomic weapons, and more importantly how did he see the world afterwards. He thought there should be a world organization that controlled all atomic weapons. Was he naïve? Could this have ever worked? All of this is discussed. Religion is discussed too. According to Einstein, it is the absence of miracles that proves the existence of divine providence. It is the laws of nature that so magnificently explain the world around us and that inspire awe. His belief in science was very close to his religiosity. They are one and the same thing. Einstein in a nutshell: creativity and imagination and curiosity require non-conformity which requires the nurturing of free minds which requires tolerance and finally humility. Einstein was a kind, unpretentious, humble man. I really, really liked this book. I wish I could speak with Einstein himself. Even though he was great he would have talked to me. He was never showy or saw himself as the extraordinary person that he was. Another interesting question: was he in his soul German or Swiss or American? I mean, in spirit. Or was he a citizen of the world? I listened to the audiobook narrated by Edward Herrmann. The narration was clear and at a perfect speed. The science sections were hard. For those of you who are reading this to better understand physics, maybe it is better to read the paper book, where it is easier to stop and THINK! Oh, I forgot to say this – when Einstein got the Nobel Prize, which by the way was not for relativity, he explained his scientific theories over and over. When asked if others understood, most admitted they didn’t. This made me feel a lot better when I found myself becoming confused. I read the book to meet the man, and I really enjoyed it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    A while back I had tried to read Walter Isaacson's biography on Benjamin Franklin, but just couldn't get through it because the author mired everything down in pointless details. Despite that, I decided to give his more recent book about famed theoretical physicist Albert Einstein a try. If it turned out to be boring, I'd just drop it. Turned out, I loved it. What I loved about Isaacon's book here is the way it delicately balances three aspects: the life of Einstein from a strictly biographical A while back I had tried to read Walter Isaacson's biography on Benjamin Franklin, but just couldn't get through it because the author mired everything down in pointless details. Despite that, I decided to give his more recent book about famed theoretical physicist Albert Einstein a try. If it turned out to be boring, I'd just drop it. Turned out, I loved it. What I loved about Isaacon's book here is the way it delicately balances three aspects: the life of Einstein from a strictly biographical angle, the examination of his scientific works like special and general relativity, and the discussion of how Einstein impacted and viewed the scientific zeitgeist of the early 20th century --particularly within the field of physics. I could see how someone setting out to write this book might want to focus on just one or two of these facets, but that would really be missing a huge opportunity. Each member of this trio of topics interacts with each other, and Isaacson finds ways to discuss two or more of them within the same passage. We get interesting little tidbits about Einstein's personal life and character, but we see how those things impacted the way he pursued his scientific work and thinking, and how that body of work turn defined (or, later, ran counter to) the entire field of physics. Seeing how all these pieces intersected and linked was fascinating. It's all pretty well written, too. We get neat little anecdotes about Einstein like how contrary to popular belief he never failed math, or how he married his cousin, had four citizenships, or how --SPOILER ALERT-- the coroner who performed his autopsy stole his fricking brain and kept it in a jar for years while periodically giving out pieces of it to friends. I'll admit that when Isaacson would go off on a lecture about special or general relativity my eyes would glaze over while trying to follow his discussion of say four-sided triangles in non-Euclidean space or whatever, but at least some of the time it was written at a level I could follow, at least conceptually. Enough to understand the impact it had on the field, at least until Einstein's own theories were supplanted by quantum theory. If I have any criticism of the book, it's that while Isaacson does an admirable job of placing Einstein's achievements within the context of scientific discoveries at that time, what he fails to do is give us much perspective on how much --if anything-- the modern science of today owes to Einstein and his theories. What did Einstein get wrong, and what parts of his theories have been crowded out by the inevitable march of scientific progress? Dunno. Didn't say. All in all, though, I found the book fascinating and would recommend it. I think I may go back and give the Ben Franklin book another shot.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    On the suggestion of my friend Al, I acquired and recently finished the recent Einstein biography by Walter Isaacson. He also wrote one on Franklin which I will read soon as well. As for the Einstein biography, it is about 550 pages long follow by 90 pages of footnotes and references and 50 pages of index. It covers his life and attempts to explain some of his theories. I found that the first half about his childhood and momentous discoveries in 1905 was exciting. I hadnt realized that most of On the suggestion of my friend Al, I acquired and recently finished the recent Einstein biography by Walter Isaacson. He also wrote one on Franklin which I will read soon as well. As for the Einstein biography, it is about 550 pages long follow by 90 pages of footnotes and references and 50 pages of index. It covers his life and attempts to explain some of his theories. I found that the first half about his childhood and momentous discoveries in 1905 was exciting. I hadn’t realized that most of his most critical insights came within months of each other and several years before they could be fully understood or exploited. The photoelectric effect (proving the existence of atoms) Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of matter and energy were all there. It took him another 10 years to get from the special theory to the general theory of relativity. Interesting to note as well was the innate marketing in Einstein to simplify formulas to their more palatable essence: the five symbols in E=mc2 being so incredibly benign looking but in fact harboring atom-shattering power. Isaacson often takes time to demonstrate how Einstein was constantly in wonder at the universe around him and convinced that there was some relatively simple rules hiding there waiting to be discovered by some distant omniscient deity. His further quest for general relatively was similarly passionate reading particularly in the race with a Swedish mathematician David Hildbert to find the final formula. It is a bit harder to remember and understand than the special theory but contains the famous cosmological constant that bugged him ever after. The book kind of slows down and loses a little focus after this initial rush. It drifts from Eintein’s Zionism, to his peace activism, events in his personal life, his emigration to the US, etc. The author organized the books on common themes rather than using a chronological account. I am more a fan of the latter (such as the 2-volume Faulkner biography by Blotner that remains my favorite) so this one left me a little wanting. As for the math, I would have appreciated a few more details on Einstein’s derivations and so forth but perhaps that’s just the nerd in me. I’ll need to get Hawking’s “On the Shoulders Of Giants” for that approach I think. Overall, it is an interesting introduction to Einstein’s life and highly readable. Certainly not the best biography I ever read but not the worst either.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Einstein: His Life and Universe is but a mere pinch of Einstein's theories mixed in with a modest helping of his life. The brevity was too my taste as I was only in the mood for a tiny taste of Einstein bio. Too much of the genuis' theory is liable to give me brain-freeze, so this was perfect. And done just the way I like it, tight and to the point.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Andrej Karpathy

    This was my second read of an Einstein biography, this time by Isaacson. Coming from Isaacson, the book is well-written and seemed very thoroughly researched. Overall a great read, but if I had to complain my biggest issue is that the emphasis was not allocated very well. For instance, a huge portion of the book is devoted to Einsteins personal life, reading through his correspondence with his love interests. Its interesting for a while, but after some point I thought we were intruding a little This was my second read of an Einstein biography, this time by Isaacson. Coming from Isaacson, the book is well-written and seemed very thoroughly researched. Overall a great read, but if I had to complain my biggest issue is that the emphasis was not allocated very well. For instance, a huge portion of the book is devoted to Einstein’s personal life, reading through his correspondence with his love interests. It’s interesting for a while, but after some point I thought we were intruding a little too much, and that it was stretched out and uninformative. Conversely, some very interesting portions of his life are under-represented. In one chapter he publishes his streak of 1905 papers, and in what feels like a few pages later he is a scientific celebrity. This period, where the community is discovering and processing him as a person from nowhere who made sudden and large contributions is among the most interesting, and very sparsely covered. There could have also been much more space for his works’ retrospectives - how do scientists today see his theories, in what ways was he right or wrong based on our current understanding of physics? This book was written in 2007 but so few of these interesting retrospectives are present that it may have as well been published in 1955. I thought this was a huge missed opportunity. A few more fun parts of the book I enjoyed: - Einstein did not describe himself as atheist and in fact frowned on them. Instead, he subscribed to something similar to Spinoza’s god - an abstract, pantheistic, impersonal god. I think I mostly self-identified as an atheist until now but I’ve been swayed to Einstein’s view by this book, as it was nicely presented by Walter Isaacson with help of original texts by Einstein. - Einstein strongly disliked nationalism, and thought of himself as a citizen of the world. An interesting view, expanded on nicely in the book. - I liked the anecdotes surrounding Einstein’s Nobel prize. Most people felt strongly that he should get one, but the situation was more politically charged than may seem at a first glance. In the end, Einstein received the Nobel for photoelectric effect, not for his much more impactful theory of general relativity. - The book goes into quite a lot of detail on how Einstein was rejected by almost every single academic institution prior to his 1905 papers. Luckily, it turns out that a patent office is not a bad place for an academic tenure. - The book goes into quite a bit of fun details about the massive Einstein hysteria in the public. A scientific celebrity of that scale is quite singular in our history - it was relatively unprecedented back then, and we also haven’t seen quite the same phenomenon since. I wish we did. - It was also fun to think about Einstein’s stubborn refusal to accept Quantum Mechanics despite mounting evidence throughout his life (“He does not play dice”). The irony is that many established senior scientists were on the defense of the old order when Einstein first formulated GR, and now here he was much later (as an established senior scientist) stubbornly defending the old order in face of attacks from QM. This irony was not lost on Einstein at all either, but he still refused to correct for this persistently observed bias across history. As a scientist, I hereby resolve to overcompensate in accepting new paradigms once I’m older :) I developed a new appreciation for Einstein after reading the book, and there were plenty of fun parts and anecdotes that made this quite worth the read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Telander

    EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE BY WALTER ISAACSON: Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, takes biography writing to a whole new level with Einstein: His Life and Universe. This isnt just the story of Albert Einstein from birth until death; Isaacson escorts the reader on a unique journey through the mind of Einstein, as well as through the eyes of his friends and family; along the way one becomes so close and understanding of the man of the twentieth century it is as if EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE BY WALTER ISAACSON: Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, takes biography writing to a whole new level with Einstein: His Life and Universe. This isn’t just the story of Albert Einstein from birth until death; Isaacson escorts the reader on a unique journey through the mind of Einstein, as well as through the eyes of his friends and family; along the way one becomes so close and understanding of the man of the twentieth century it is as if he were still alive and conversing with you. This book shows you the man and human being behind the genius of physics and astronomy, the creator of the theory of relativity. Do not be fooled by the sheer girth of this 700-page book, Isaacson has a writing style that immediately makes the reader feel calm and at home, sitting in a comfortable chair doing what they love to do. Coupled with this is the knowledge – since the book is so large – that you will experience every important moment in Einstein’s life and you will be able to put to rest the urban legends that have developed over the decades. And no, Einstein did not flunk math. Isaacson has done an incredible job in researching the math and physics so that the theories and ideas are presented in their entirety and laid out plainly so that if the reader wishes to truly understand Einstein’s ideas behind relativity, magnetic fields, quantum mechanics, and his never ending search for the unified field theory, they can. But unlike most Einstein biographies, this is only part of the book; another part is the human being behind the incredible brain. While being a very kind man throughout his life, Einstein also had a thing for the ladies, divorcing his first wife, Maric, of many years due to his infidelity with his second wife and cousin, Elsa, who he would outlive. Nevertheless, throughout his life Einstein always loved and cared for his children, even his first daughter with Maric who was given up for adoption and remains an obscure detail to history. There was a time when he held little respect for Hans Albert, his son, who pursued a career in engineering; Einstein’s love belonged to the world of theory and contemplation and despised the more manual sciences. Later in life, Hans and Albert became close once again and his son was by his side when Einstein died. While not in the table of contents, the book can be divided into two parts, two worlds essentially for Einstein’s life. The first is his growing up in Germany and then moving to Switzerland, Prague and Berlin. His genius was there from the beginning, as he mastered calculus at the age of 15, and while working at a patent office began his work on relativity. It took some years before Einstein was granted a professorship in Berlin among his colleagues. It is during this time that Einstein was at his height and achieved a celebrity status that was very uncommon for a scientist, and where Hitler began his steady rise to power. While Einstein adamantly declared himself without religion, he never considered himself an atheist but a scientist; however he always considered himself a member of the Jewish culture and with the changes taking place in Germany, he became a prominent spokesmen for the Zionist movement. Sadly it came to the point where it simply wasn’t safe for Einstein to live in Germany anymore, as well as being forced out of his professorship, he made the decision to immigrate to the United States. He had visited the country a number of times during his tours around the world as a proponent of relativity and to meet other scientists at conferences, and was a big supporter of the rights and freedoms inherent in the country. This is where the second part of the book begins, pursuing Einstein’s life in the United States. Read the rest of the review at www.alexctelander.com

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This is an incredibly well researched, detailed account of all aspects of Einstein's life, personal, scientific and political that I can highly recommend to anybody interested. I learned heaps I didn't know and had the record set straight on a number of points, mainly regarding Einstein's political views, how they changed over time and his level of support for setting up the Manhattan Project. I read the book with a specific research agenda, which was to independently form an opinion as to This is an incredibly well researched, detailed account of all aspects of Einstein's life, personal, scientific and political that I can highly recommend to anybody interested. I learned heaps I didn't know and had the record set straight on a number of points, mainly regarding Einstein's political views, how they changed over time and his level of support for setting up the Manhattan Project. I read the book with a specific research agenda, which was to independently form an opinion as to whether Einstein was autistic, an idea not first suggested by me and not on the author's mind either. Conclusion: Yep, autisticker than an autistic person with autism. Towards the end there is an account of how Einstein was affected by and responded to McCarthyism. He was opposed, seeing in it the oppression of free speech and free thought characteristic of both Fascism and Communism. The author takes the view that McCarthyism was a passing fad, doomed to fail in the long term because of the greatness of the American Constitution. I found this level of complacency offensive to all the victims of McCarthy, all the people who spoke up in defense of freedoms and all the people who defended the constitution legally. On it's own the constitution is nothing; without those people willing to risk reputation, career, even liberty, would McCarthyism have been a "passing fad"? Given the current political situation, we need such people more than ever. You disappoint me in this, Isaacson. Einstein, who used his world famous name to stand up for moderation, tolerance and freedom of thought and speech, does not. Still, overall an excellent book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    You'll know Albert like your own grandfather after reading this. This book covers the complete life of Albert Einstein, from his childhood (he never did fail a math test) and early attraction to science and math to his love life, his children, his education, his employment, his many great theories and discoveries, his relationship with all of his famous peers, his rise to public fame, his sincere beliefs in freedom from oppression, 2 world wars, his role with the bomb, and his life in the US. You'll know Albert like your own grandfather after reading this. This book covers the complete life of Albert Einstein, from his childhood (he never did fail a math test) and early attraction to science and math to his love life, his children, his education, his employment, his many great theories and discoveries, his relationship with all of his famous peers, his rise to public fame, his sincere beliefs in freedom from oppression, 2 world wars, his role with the bomb, and his life in the US. And through it all is modest, humble private life. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Einstein was a great read - I gained a new appreciation for Einstein as a person and his scientific world. In the beginning of the book, I didn't know quite what to think of Einstein. I couldn't tell if he possessed great confidence or if he crossed over to being arrogant, and I wasn't impressed with how he handled his personal relationships. However, as the book went on, I gained an appreciation for his thirst for knowledge, his independent thinking, confidence, determination, and even Einstein was a great read - I gained a new appreciation for Einstein as a person and his scientific world. In the beginning of the book, I didn't know quite what to think of Einstein. I couldn't tell if he possessed great confidence or if he crossed over to being arrogant, and I wasn't impressed with how he handled his personal relationships. However, as the book went on, I gained an appreciation for his thirst for knowledge, his independent thinking, confidence, determination, and even kindness. I've decided based on comments by Einstein's friends, that he wasn't an arrogant person, but he was a confident, independent thinker who wasn't swayed by the prevailing thoughts in physics and political culture. Further, Einstein seemed to possess a humility that resulted from his awe of the beauty and order of the universe which he believed was created by God. As he aged, he seemed to develop more of a softness and kindness I didn't see perceive earlier in his life. Near the end of the book, I also became impressed with his political activism and desire to help humanity. Some of the chapters in the book delve quite a bit into Einstein's physics. These chapters were harder for me to get through, but they did help me gain more of an apprecation for Einstein's work and made me roughly familiar with his world. Like most biographies, I was familiarized with Einstein's mistakes and flaws, but I also gained a deep respect for his brilliance and character. Overall, I think this was a well-written biography that was a great read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    TS Chan

    While this did take me quite a while to finish, I do like it a lot. I just dragged through this over a period as at some point it started to feel a bit dry, but that was more from my state of mind as this was not an easy book to digest. A bit of history about me and Einstein, not that I know him personally of course! Back in high school, I loved books so much that I was a school librarian. I also had a very early interest in science which was instilled by my father who actually bought me a set While this did take me quite a while to finish, I do like it a lot. I just dragged through this over a period as at some point it started to feel a bit dry, but that was more from my state of mind as this was not an easy book to digest. A bit of history about me and Einstein, not that I know him personally of course! Back in high school, I loved books so much that I was a school librarian. I also had a very early interest in science which was instilled by my father who actually bought me a set of Science Encyclopedia for kids. And so it happens came across a rather old biography of Albert Einstein in the school library and being intrigued with what made this dude so famous, I proceeded to read it. It was really dry, especially for a teenager, and all I can remember about Einstein was that he was a brilliant non-conformist who didn't shine in school as his thoughts were way ahead of everyone else. This version of his biography is immensely in-depth. I suppose the length of the audiobook at over 21hrs was probably a good indicator that I was about to embark on quite a journey about the life and universe of Albert Einstein. The comprehensiveness of this book extends to a simplified understanding of special theory and general theory of relativity, the photoelectric effect and even quantum physics, just to name a few. While most people are aware of his contribution to the scientific field of physics, I am not sure if the same knowledge applies to the majority about his vocality on governments and politics. And he was also quite an accomplished amateur player of the piano and the violin, with the latter being his instrument of choice. Einstein's personal life was as complex as his scientific thought experiments. He was in equal measures passionate and yet detached especially when he felt restricted by bonds of relationships. If you have the patience coupled with a keen interest in gleaning into the greatest scientific mind of the 20th century, I definitely recommend this version of Einstein's biography. And I'll close with the following which encapsulated who this amazing man was. He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. And thus it was that an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    People ask the question all the time, "If you could have dinner with someone, living or dead, who would it be?" My new answer (probably not who you're thinking): WALTER ISAACSON. Not only would Isaacson bring one of greatest thinkers (the good sir Albert Einstein) to the table, he'd also be able to conjure visionaries like Da Vinci (next queued audiobook), Benjamin Franklin, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. He'd regale funny anecdotes and character quirks as if he were speaking about a personal friend, People ask the question all the time, "If you could have dinner with someone, living or dead, who would it be?" My new answer (probably not who you're thinking): WALTER ISAACSON. Not only would Isaacson bring one of greatest thinkers (the good sir Albert Einstein) to the table, he'd also be able to conjure visionaries like Da Vinci (next queued audiobook), Benjamin Franklin, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk. He'd regale funny anecdotes and character quirks as if he were speaking about a personal friend, talk about their thought processes in depth, and get to their heart and soul. Einstein: His Life And Universe is an absolute triumph. Not since Michael Ruhlman, who made the culinary world come alive for me with his "Making of a Chef" series, has an author awakened an interest in a subject so intensely. A friend of mine once said, "Don't bother reading the history of Africa; just read The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. It's got it all." I get it now; I want to tell people, "Don't bother with physics; just get Isaacson's book." Physics, man! It turns out, it's not just math (Einstein wasn't even that great at math; he relied on thought experiments); it's why we're here. Since starting this 20+hour audiobook, I've been watching lots of NOVA (highly recommend the Fabric of the Cosmos series), bookmarking relativity and "meaning of the universe" docs on Netflix and Prime, and going down the rabbit hole of quantum mechanics. And it's all been fascinating. I really didn't expect to get such an in-depth schooling on physics from a biography, or to take to it as I have. Isaacson breaks down incredibly difficult concepts--relativity (gravity and acceleration are indistinguishable--there's a great analogy of a man suspended in an elevator)--and gravity is a property of "space-time"); mass/energy equivalence (E=MC^2); and the photoelectric effect (light interacts with matter as "packets" of light/energy, not waves). All of this doesn't mean anything here, of course, because I'm not Einstein, or Isaacson. But seriously, you'll feel like a fucking genius after you finish Isaacson's work. (Until you try to explain it to someone else in your own words; then you'll feel like a dolt again.) Isaacson mentions that Einstein never fancied himself to be that smart. He said his best quality was his curiosity. He was also humble, never afraid to admit when he was wrong, or throw out or refine a theory. He was most pleased and humbled when he could grasp an underlying principle that governed all (that to him, was the true miracle; not an aberration from universal law). While he never quite came around to quantum mechanics (his favorite quote was "God does not throw dice"), he helped challenge its biggest proponents like Niehls Bohr (who used to mumble under his breath, "Einstein, Einstein..."). Einstein was amused and seemed to play into the "absentminded professor" characterization he received later in life, and enjoyed interacting with the public. He was self-aware, kind, the highest of independent thinkers (World War II made him reject his views on pacifism), and was instrumental in the development of the atom bomb when it was feared that Germany was also developing the technology (he distanced himself from his involvement when we used the atom bomb(s) on Japan, and it was clear Germany didn't possess the weapon). He was once offered the presidency of Israel, helped establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, married his first cousin, possibly had an illegitimate daughter who was given up for adoption and never mentioned again, published his four most famous papers at the age of 26, adored Mozart and playing the violin, was suspected of being a spy at the height of the McCarthy era (Isaacson pokes fun at the FBI here, specifically the file they had on Einstein, which carried everything EXCEPT his unbeknownst affair with an actual Russian spy), was a civil rights advocate, and befriended not only famous scientists but artists like Upton Sinclair and Charlie Chaplin. My favorite part of listening to this book has been watching physics docs with my smartass husband, who already knows a lot about science. We'll be watching NOVA, and I'll shout out, "It's entanglement! Arthur Eddington proved that! Entropy!" and he'll just look at me like, "When the HELL have you been listening to?" That, friends, was worth the 20+ hour listen in and of itself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ross

    I have read several biographies of Einstein and this is certainly the best. It is also exhaustive, 3 times the size of any of the others. I especially enjoyed the quite detailed coverage of Einsteins's trials and tribulations during the 10 years he labored mightily to extend his theory of special relativity to his masterpiece of general relativity. The author includes a great deal of coverage of Einstein's efforts to promote his idea of the need for a world governing body that would have all the I have read several biographies of Einstein and this is certainly the best. It is also exhaustive, 3 times the size of any of the others. I especially enjoyed the quite detailed coverage of Einsteins's trials and tribulations during the 10 years he labored mightily to extend his theory of special relativity to his masterpiece of general relativity. The author includes a great deal of coverage of Einstein's efforts to promote his idea of the need for a world governing body that would have all the military power needed to prevent any furure wars. This coverage makes it quite clear that Einstein had absolutely no understanding at all as to why this was a completely impossible dream. All in all Einstein emerges as the truly great man that he was.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    Great writing. Great story telling. Sensitive. Balanced. Humane. Very satisfying. Leaves you feeling awestruck by his genius, inspired by his tenacity, grit and fearless outspokenness, consternated by his ridiculous hypocrisy, aghast at his shameless philandering, and ultimately in love with this deeply flawed but uniquely brilliant human.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jacqui

    Everyone knows Albert Einstein--smart man, came up with E+MC2, helped create the atomic bomb--but I didn't know much beyond the hype. That's why I picked up Walter Isaacson's award winning book Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon and Schuster 2007). I like to read about smart people. What's different about how they think than other people? Can they relate to ordinary people? Where do they get the amazing ideas they come up with? As often as not, brilliant people become criminals as successes Everyone knows Albert Einstein--smart man, came up with E+MC2, helped create the atomic bomb--but I didn't know much beyond the hype. That's why I picked up Walter Isaacson's award winning book Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon and Schuster 2007). I like to read about smart people. What's different about how they think than other people? Can they relate to ordinary people? Where do they get the amazing ideas they come up with? As often as not, brilliant people become criminals as successes like Einstein, which tells me we as a world culture don't respect intelligence as the end-all for our problems. Someone who is charismatic, friendly, likeable, with good-enough brains is more likely to succeed than an individual whose brain never shuts off. Turns out, that was true for Albert Einstein. The childhood Isaacson shares with us doesn't sound like a boy revered for his thinking skills. He had the same problems as you and I, including that he struggled in many academic classes because his brain didn't fit into the teacher's pedagogic box. When he entered the work world, he couldn't find a job and happily took one toiling in the offices of the patent department. His brain continued to chug along, thinking through problems around him, but he was a theoretician. That meant he came up with ways to solve problems that were formulaic rather than drawn from the reality of the world around him. This made their acceptance more challenging in the academic world. After all, the senses couldn't see them happening. But, Einstein couldn't turn his brain off and that tenacity is what won out in the end. Tenacity. That's a trait anyone can develop. You don't need to be a genius. How many parents rail on their kids to never give up, don't be a quitter, to the last man standing goes the spoils. Isaacson gently shares the details of Einstein's later life, when he accomplished little and seemed confused over his direction in life, adamant about his beliefs, but not sure where to take them when he could find little support for his thinking. Overall, Einstein's story is a lesson for all of us. He had a God-given talent to think better than anyone in his generation, but it was the very human traits of tenacity and perseverance that enabled his success and the inability to see the forest for the trees that mitigated it in the end. A worthy story for all, as much biography as lessons in how to live an extraordinary life. You'll have to engage your own tenacity as the book is a raucous 675 pages--not for the faint of heart.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Here's a chance to become more intimately acquainted with an exceptional life that straddles both world wars, a biography that introduces the reader to the histories of England, Germany, Switzerland, England, Israel, Italy and Japan in relation to both conflicts . The pre & post war economies, businesses, and careers possible as described here seem a world away from today. Seeing them from the perspective of Einsteins life, his family's ups and downs , and the way they separate colleagues, Here's a chance to become more intimately acquainted with an exceptional life that straddles both world wars, a biography that introduces the reader to the histories of England, Germany, Switzerland, England, Israel, Italy and Japan in relation to both conflicts . The pre & post war economies, businesses, and careers possible as described here seem a world away from today. Seeing them from the perspective of Einsteins life, his family's ups and downs , and the way they separate colleagues, couples, siblings, parents and children forces the reader to consider the wars as more than a VE Day vignette . More than a history of 20th century physics, here is also an in depth look at the personalities who shaped the way we look at today's universe and the concepts they entertained, pursued, and developed. This bio shows many of the false starts and might have beens as Einstein sought entrance at school, later tried and failed to gained teaching posts, and a gainful occupation. His romantic and family life were similarly a series of trial and error, pleasure and sorrow. But, perhaps most remarkably here too is a celebration of music, a life that intersects with politics and academia, with loves great and small for sailing, tobacco, the comforts of home. In the end it's images of small things like a knife in a lakeside cottage in Germany that I will remember about this remarkable man and his unusual life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Quintin Zimmermann

    A meticulously researched biography on the flawed man behind the genius. Albert Einstein as a young man turned the world of science on its head by casting off established conventions and boldly following initiative leaps of logic and reasoning that defied the established order. It was actually a rather long journey that he followed, much derided by the academic community who for a long time failed to recognise his genius, or perhaps his genius was not so much in the maths, but in his thought A meticulously researched biography on the flawed man behind the genius. Albert Einstein as a young man turned the world of science on its head by casting off established conventions and boldly following initiative leaps of logic and reasoning that defied the established order. It was actually a rather long journey that he followed, much derided by the academic community who for a long time failed to recognise his genius, or perhaps his genius was not so much in the maths, but in his thought experiments, where he dared to imagine outside the strictures of academia. Albert Einstein as an elder statesman became obsessed with his quixotic search for a unified field theory. He once again became the lone wolf, but this time for the wrong reasons as he stubbornly failed to acknowledged the import of quantum theory, much to the consternation of his colleagues and the derision of his critics. He remained steadfast in his conviction that the universe loves simplicity and beauty, that God does not play dice with the universe. To which Bohr famously rejoined: Einstein, stop telling God what to do!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tim McIntosh

    Having loved Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, I decided to educate myself about the scientist who's personality is synonymous with genius: Albert Einstein. Isaacson's research yields interesting treasures about Einstein's personal life, politics, and convictions. For me, the most compelling about this book are Isaacson's descriptions of Einstein's theories. Very few lay-readers have the sort of scientific background required to understand quantum mechanics or the theory of special Having loved Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, I decided to educate myself about the scientist who's personality is synonymous with genius: Albert Einstein. Isaacson's research yields interesting treasures about Einstein's personal life, politics, and convictions. For me, the most compelling about this book are Isaacson's descriptions of Einstein's theories. Very few lay-readers have the sort of scientific background required to understand quantum mechanics or the theory of special relativity. But Isaacson uses Einstein's own thought-experiments to help defog the complexities surrounding these achievements. The action of the book is front-loaded. After publishing his paper on special relativity, Einstein's accomplishments slowed. He continued to work hard on quantum mechanics and at disputing the uncertainly principle (whence his famous quip, "God does not play dice with the universe"), but as the biography progresses, the action shifts from science to Einstein's political endeavors. I found the book to resemble its subject: Insightful, playful, whimsical. An excellent biography for those, like me, who are largely ignorant about 20th century scientific advances.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Book Hunter

    This is a well researched account of all aspects of Einstein's life. The writing was just okay, sometimes it was dry, repetitive and hard to follow. There was a lot of physics, and some sections just went over my head. Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of Einstein was limited to his theories of relativity learnt in school. It was interesting to get a better sense of his life. Once I became more familiar with his personality, I didn't admire him nearly as much as I thought I would. All This is a well researched account of all aspects of Einstein's life. The writing was just okay, sometimes it was dry, repetitive and hard to follow. There was a lot of physics, and some sections just went over my head. Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of Einstein was limited to his theories of relativity learnt in school. It was interesting to get a better sense of his life. Once I became more familiar with his personality, I didn't admire him nearly as much as I thought I would. All told, I didn’t find this book incredibly entertaining but it was informative.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tieryas

    Nothing short of a masterpiece that will make you rethink not only Einstein, but science and existence. Fascinating book. Will write more soon. __________ Just started, pretty awesome so far. https://tieryas.wordpress.com/2014/11...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liza Fireman

    I never wrote a review for Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. If I would it would could be summarized by, very interesting life, very intriguing man, very long biography, could be cut in half, maybe even a bit more. Maybe I could add, that Steve wasn't a comfortable person, even if a genius, and that too could be said about Einstein. All the above works for this biography. At some point, I just couldn't wait for it to be over (and over and over again). Maybe I should start by saying that I greatly I never wrote a review for Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. If I would it would could be summarized by, very interesting life, very intriguing man, very long biography, could be cut in half, maybe even a bit more. Maybe I could add, that Steve wasn't a comfortable person, even if a genius, and that too could be said about Einstein. All the above works for this biography. At some point, I just couldn't wait for it to be over (and over and over again). Maybe I should start by saying that I greatly enjoyed The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict. It gave me most of what I didn't know about Einstein's personal life. It's fiction, but has a lot of facts in it. Benedict created a book full of life, is so much more interesting than the very dry and very repetitive version of Isaacson. The other half, Einstein's scientific life I learned in parts in physics classes. It is very different to learn relativity in a class then in a popular book. I found the book quite flat there. I do want to put here a highlight, my favorite part of Einstein's theory. It sounds super strange and quite impossible. Thank you my physics professor, it is one of the things that I am happy to know. This phenomenon, called time dilation, leads to what is known as the twin paradox. If a man stays on the platform while his twin sister takes off in a spaceship that travels long distances at nearly the speed of light, when she returns she would be younger than he is. But because motion is relative, this seems to present a paradox. The sister on the spaceship might think it’s her brother on earth who is doing the fast traveling, and when they are rejoined she would expect to observe that it was he who did not age much. Could they each come back younger than the other one? Of course not. The phenomenon does not work in both directions. Because the spaceship does not travel at a constant velocity, but instead must turn around, it’s the twin on the spaceship, not the one on earth, who would age more slowly. I can't say that I found passion in this book, not in the personal parts or the scientific ones. Unlike Isaacson mentioning passion, only as a word:in fact passionate in both his personal and scientific pursuits. At college he fell madly in love with the only woman in his physics class, a dark and intense Serbian named Mileva Marich. They had an illegitimate daughter, then married and had two sons. She served as a sounding board for his scientific ideas and helped to check the math in his papers, but eventual y their relationship disintegrated. Einstein offered her a deal. He would win the Nobel Prize someday, he said; if she gave him a divorce, he would give her the prize money. She thought for a week and accepted. A bit more about Einstein. We all heard that he failed math, got kicked out of school, or such rumors that are actually incorrect. One widely held belief about Einstein is that he failed math as a student, an assertion that is made, often accompanied by the phrase “as everyone knows,” by scores of books and thousands of websites designed to reassure underachieving students. It even made it into the famous “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” newspaper column. Alas, Einstein’s childhood offers history many savory ironies, but this is not one of them. In 1935, a rabbi in Princeton showed him a clipping of the Ripley’s column with the headline “Greatest Living Mathematician Failed in Mathematics.” Einstein laughed. “I never failed in mathematics,” he replied, correctly. “Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus." But he was a bit slow with speaking: He was slow in learning how to talk. “My parents were so worried,” he later recalled, “that they consulted a doctor.” Even after he had begun using words, sometime after the age of 2, he developed a quirk that prompted the family maid to dub him “der Depperte,” the dopey one, and others in his family to label him as “almost backwards.” Whenever he had something to say, he would try it out on himself, whispering it softly until it sounded good enough to pronounce aloud. “Every sentence he uttered”. So yes, Einstein was weird, but no one can say that he wasn't extremely smart. He wasn't extremely awesome in math either. And also for a long time he didn't think that math was that important. Again, this is told much better in The Other Einstein. That realization would sink in a decade later, when he was wrestling with the geometry of his theory of gravity and found himself forced to rely on the help of a math professor who had once cal ed him a lazy dog. “I have become imbued with great respect for mathematics,” he wrote to a colleague in 1912, “the subtler part of which I had in my simple-mindedness regarded as pure luxury until now.” Near the end of his life, he expressed a similar lament in a conversation with a younger friend. “At a very early age, I made an assumption that a successful physicist only needs to know elementary mathematics,” he said. “At a later time, with great regret, I realized that the assumption of mine was completely wrong.” Another new finding for me was that he was not supposed to be called Albert, his parents actually planned to call him Abraham. Pauline and Hermann had planned to name the boy Abraham, after his paternal grandfather. But they came to feel, he later said, that the name sounded “too Jewish.”10 So they kept the initial A and named him Albert Einstein. And then there's Einstein the man. A genius, but not the most empathic person, not a great loving husband or father. Unfortunately, we have many of them among the successful and famous. But I would say that Isaacson just waves it for the most part. Einstein had a daughter from his own wife, that he never saw, never found the time to visit. And actually complained when his wife went to take care of her when she was really sick (to her dismay, as Isaacson puts it). But Einstein, to her dismay, decided to spend the summer vacation again with his mother and sister in the Alps. As a result, he was not there to help and encourage her at the end of July 1901 when she re-took her exams. Perhaps as a consequence of her pregnancy and personal situation, Mileva ended up failing for the second time, once again getting a 4.0 out of 6 and once again being the only one in her group not to pass. Or as I was shocked to read this part, about his noble intentions. How can anyone phrase noble intentions with someone that for two and a half years didn't see his daughter even once, and his pregnant loved one during her pregnancy? “The only problem that would remain to be solved would be how to keep our Lieserl with us,” Einstein (who had begun referring to their unborn child as a girl) wrote to Mari , who had returned home to have the baby at her parents’ house in Novi Sad. “I wouldn’t want to have to give her up.” It was a noble intention on his part, yet he knew that it would be difficult for him to show up for work in Bern with an illegitimate child. “Ask your Papa; he’s an experienced man, and knows the world better than your overworked, impractical Johnnie.” For good measure, he declared that the baby, when born, “shouldn’t be stuffed with cow milk, because it might make her stupid.” Mari ’s milk would be more nourishing, he said. Should we add the part that milk will make her stupid? Can I be more furious at Mr. Isaacson? Apparently, I can. Einstein and his daughter apparently never laid eyes on each other. She would merit, as we shall see, just one brief mention in their surviving correspondence less than two years later, in September 1903, and then not be referred to again. In the meantime, she was left back in Novi Sad with her mother’s relatives or friends so that Einstein could maintain both his unencumbered lifestyle and the bourgeois respectability Never laid eyes?! I guess we can blame both of them for that. Or maybe his beautiful support of his friend Marie Curie. The whole furor seemed silly to Einstein. “She is an unpretentious, honest person,” he said, with “a sparkling intelligence.” He also rather bluntly came to the conclusion, not justified, that she was not pretty enough to wreck anyone’s marriage. “Despite her passionate nature,” he said, “she is not attractive enough to represent a danger to anyone.” Sparkling intelligence but not attractive enough? Or maybe his supportive fatherhood: Shortly after his remarriage, Einstein visited Zurich to see his sons. Hans Albert, then 15, announced that he had decided to become an engineer. “I think it’s a disgusting idea,” said Einstein, whose father and uncle had been engineers. “I’m still going to become an engineer,” replied the boy. Would anyone care for Einstein if he didn't look like we want to imagine a genius? If he learned to brush or cut his hair?If he did not have that electrified halo of hair and those piercing eyes, would he still have become science’s preeminent poster boy? Suppose, as a thought experiment, that he had looked like a Max Planck or a Niels Bohr. Would he have remained in their reputational orbit, that of a mere scientific genius? Or would he still have made the leap into the pantheon inhabited by Aristotle, Galileo, and Newton? I want to finish with mentioning that Isaacson has taken a special liking to the phrase "in other words", not only that he is using it tens of times, 38 times to be accurate, he is also using it even when it doesn't say anything in other words, just adding more and more words. For example: In other words, Einstein’s approach had evolved. or: In other words, unlike her husband, she rejected quantum mechanics’ view that the universe was based on uncertainties and probabilities. In other words, this book is too long. And in more other words, Isaacson is too forgiving towards Einstein, and is quite flat, and repetitive. In other words, the book is quite boring, and way too long, and all the drama in Einstein's life (and there was much of it) tends to turn to monotonic tone and 551 pages. After thinking if it's a 2 or 3, it's about 2.5 rounding to 2. Sorry Isaacson, third time ice cream. Also, 5+ stars to Einstein as a genius, 1 star for Einstein as a man. Sometimes it is better not to dig to our giants' lives, let them be immortal, let them be not human, too many disappointments expected when digging.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    This lengthy 550 page biography depicts Albert Einstein's life well. This is a nuanced volume, speaking to the subject's flaws as well as his triumphs. Isaacson is a functional writer rather than a compelling writer, but his skills still make this a good book to read. Isaacson introduces the volume with a telling comment (page 2): ". . .it is possible to explore how the private side of Einstein--his conconformist personality, his instincts as a rebel, his curiosity, his passions and This lengthy 550 page biography depicts Albert Einstein's life well. This is a nuanced volume, speaking to the subject's flaws as well as his triumphs. Isaacson is a functional writer rather than a compelling writer, but his skills still make this a good book to read. Isaacson introduces the volume with a telling comment (page 2): ". . .it is possible to explore how the private side of Einstein--his conconformist personality, his instincts as a rebel, his curiosity, his passions and detachments--intertwined with his political side and his scientific side." Several images stand out. First, he debunks myths such as the claim that Einstein flunked math early on. Second, he notes that Einstein's rebelliousness, noted in the quotation above, probably helped make him such a revolutionary thinker in the early 20th century. He developed his theory of relativity (special and general); he was one who took part in the development of quantum theory, and so on. Many of these developments came about because he was not content to go along with established theories, authorities, and scientists. He questioned things; this questioning opened him to different ways of understanding the physical world. Sadly, later in life, Einstein came to defend what he had done and embraced the scientific status quo. He could never fully accept quantum theory (a perspective that he, in part, helped found). He went from a revolutionary to part of the establishment. Third, his personal odyssey is interesting to follow. As a person, he could be fairly cold toward others--including those in his own family. He was not always faithful to his wives (he used the promise of what he anticipated as his winning the Nobel Prize and its financial award to get his first wife to agree to a divorce; simply, he promised to turn the financial award over to her when he won); he could be tough on his children. His movement out of Germany as the Nazis began to rise to power is well told. His eventual move to the United States is a part of his story. Fourth, his sometimes courageous and sometimes lonely political stands are well described. He was a pacifist (normally); he wanted liberty to be available to all. His political activism was an important part of his life. The story concludes with the curious tale of what happened to his brain after his death. In short, this is a solidly written biography of one of the towering intellects of the 20th century. If one wishes to learn more about Einstein, this is a nice volume to use as a starting point.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Taking a brief sojourn from the world of political biographies, I chose to tackle another of Walter Isaacson's collection, this time focussing on prized scientist Albert Einstein. While the general public is well-versed in some of the better known aspects of Einstein's life, there is much that helped shape him, even outside his scientific endeavours, that is of great interest to the reader. Isaacson pens another wonderful biography, in which he portrays Einstein in three distinct lights: the Taking a brief sojourn from the world of political biographies, I chose to tackle another of Walter Isaacson's collection, this time focussing on prized scientist Albert Einstein. While the general public is well-versed in some of the better known aspects of Einstein's life, there is much that helped shape him, even outside his scientific endeavours, that is of great interest to the reader. Isaacson pens another wonderful biography, in which he portrays Einstein in three distinct lights: the quirky individual, the scientific juggernaut, and the social commentator. Using these three themes, the reader can better understand Einstein, while seeing many of his wonderful scientific achievements come to life on the written page. Isaacson puts together a wonderful piece, both entertaining and educational, to depict a well-rounded approach to Einstein's life. It would likely surprise few readers to learn that Einstein was a quirky fellow, though not in a 'mad scientist' way. From an early age, Einstein had a thirst for knowledge and chose to do things in a unique fashion. Isaacson illustrates some of his nature in Einstein's post-secondary studies, where he met Mileva Maric, the woman he would eventually marry. Their correspondence was anything but traditionally romantic, choosing instead to fuel their passion by discussing scientific papers. This morphed into an Einstein who, when Maric was pregnant with their first (and illegitimate) child, chose to remain apart from her and waited for her father to announce the news of the baby's birth before he replied with a number of curious questions about his daughter's appearance. He did not rush to her or lay eyes on the little one, preferring to continue his scientific discoveries and tutoring jobs. Einstein eventually married Maric, who bore him two sons, though their relationship strained over the years and led to Einstein seeking a divorce, promising to offer up the prize money from any subsequent Nobel Prize. This appeared to work and opened the option for Einstein to pursue his first cousin, Elsa. They would eventually marry, though not for romantic or intellectual reasons. Isaacson does not provide much social commentary on Einstein's choice for a second marriage, though he does not deny its odd development. Einstein seemed to have a number of female friends with whom lines blurred. He did not react in any way that would lead the reader to believe anything was wrong or that he felt remorse. As the narrative continues, Isaacson depicts Einstein as a man free of social norms, befriending royals and heads of state alike, all without pretence or concern for status. While he could likely understand hierarchy, Einstein placed everyone on an equal playing field, thirsty for knowledge and keen on sharing their insights. This mindset permeated throughout Einstein's life and did spurn a slight uniqueness in his viewpoint. To consider Einstein a scientific heavyweight of his time may be underplaying his influence. Throughout the text, Isaacson not only illustrates the lengths to which Einstein sought to push the boundaries of physics, but also explores some of the many quandaries that other physicists left dangling. From an early age, Einstein absorbed all mathematical and scientific concepts, teaching himself with the help of a textbook. Einstein sped through his studies and always wondered about the mechanics of the world, particularly those things he could not see. As the Father of Theoretical Physics, Einstein relied not on concrete experimentation to handle his queries, but a collection of thought experiments. These experiments also permitted him to better explain his ideas to the layperson. Likely influenced by the mode of transportation used to carry him to his job in the Swiss Patent Office, Einstein used trains and elevators as central characters in many thought experiments, especially related to gravity and light. It was through these experiments that Einstein developed the concepts of relativity and began publishing papers on the topic. What may be of great surprise to the reader is that Einstein's work was not praised uniformly. Einstein could not secure an academic post for many years, nor were many of his ideas enough to score him a supported doctoral thesis topic. It is only later that others piggybacked on his thought processes, which led to an overall acceptance of his work. That Einstein carved a niche in the scientific world is an understatement, though he sought to open new realms that took many by surprise and therefore left them unable to understand. Einstein never stopped wondering or pushing limits, as illustrated by Isaacson. There were many who opened new pathways of thought down which Einstein travelled, promoting an ever-evolving thought process. Isaacson introduces the reader not only to the various scientific fields in which Einstein dabbled, but also the players who kept challenging the ways of thinking. It is for this reason that Einstein can be said to have a strong foundation in the scientific world decades after his passing. Einstein's attachment with the world, outside of science, is not lost within Isaacson's piece. From an early age, Einstein criticised the German state, feeling its overly militaristic nature served no one and promoted an automaton mentality. Einstein shed his citizenship as soon as I could, living for a time as a man without a state. He did, however, do all he could to secure Swiss citizenship and worked in their Patent Office for a time, which fuelled his scientific mind. Choosing the ideal state for a pacifist, Einstein lived a life free of concern for a time, but was lured back to Germany in the mid 1910s, ahead of the military build-up and outbreak of the Great War. Einstein spoke out against societal criticism in a pre-tabloid age. In one such instance, Isaacson discusses the plight of Marie Curie seen in public with another man soon after her marital dissolution. Einstein counselled her not let society dictate how to live her life, while castigating those who felt it appropriate to cast stones and appear faultless. Later, during the inter-war years, Einstein took a strong stand against the League of Nations, which promoted ideas of rules for armament rather than a complete disarmament protocol. Isaacson speculates that part of this sentiment was not only because Einstein saw himself as an eternal pacifist, but also due to the ongoing rumbles behind German borders. Einstein took a strong stand against the Weimar Republic and build-up of the Nazis, concentrated in its fearless leader, Hitler. Einstein's strong views saw Nazi attacks on his German home, though the scientist had moved to America to work. He chose, once again, to renounce his German citizenship, partially upon learning that he was a persona non grata in his Fatherland. By the time he settled at Princeton, Einstein chose to apply for US Citizenship and proudly became one in the final fifteen years of his life. These strong sentiments saw Einstein push for a no-holds barred approach against the Nazis, irrespective of his Jewish background, in order to curtail the megalomaniacal antics Hitler undertook in Europe and his plans on an international scale. Einstein also helped foster a place for academics and students alike could go where their religious background would not see them shunned. Isaacson argues that the creation of Hebrew University in Jerusalem would not have come to fruition without Einstein's support, nor would the influx of key scientific minds from Europe's Jewish community to American universities. Einstein fostered a strong commitment to political and social activism throughout his life, opening new channels for success that rivalled the scientific advancements he made on a regular basis. As a reader with a strong liberal arts background, I found tackling this biography daunting in places, not because Isaacson seeks to write over my head, but due to all Einstein had in his own mind. Isaacson tries his best to explore the scientific concepts Einstein tackled, using as simplistic an explanation thread a possible. However, these are complex areas of discussion and theoretical concepts at best, leaving me to drift at times, eyes glazed over as I seek to absorb the narrative. Isaacson cannot be faulted for this (nor can Einstein) and the former did all he could to not shy away from presenting the lengths to which the latter went in his scientific discoveries. Another brief note from the text worthy of mention before ending the review. Einstein's family, both those with whom he lived and those he created as an adult, played a central and ongoing role in his life. Isaacson depicts the sometimes complex and controversial way in which this delicate puzzle comes together, highlighting some of the more awkward or depressing aspects, all of which weighed heavily on Einstein. For all his theoretical analysis and experimentation outside the realm of hands-on learning, Einstein had a good grasp of those around him and the familial obligations that followed. This contrasted nicely with the significant academic threads found in the biography's content. Kudos, Mr. Isaacson for this wonderful piece of work. I have a much better idea of the man and the scientific legend who influenced many in ways I cannot begin to comprehend. Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

  30. 5 out of 5

    April Cote

    "He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. And thus it was that an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. It is unbelievable how brilliant Albert Einstein was, just pure genius. My favorite parts of the book were the descriptions or situations Albert Einstein just didn't give much thought to or notice. How he would go to an important "He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. And thus it was that an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe.” It is unbelievable how brilliant Albert Einstein was, just pure genius. My favorite parts of the book were the descriptions or situations Albert Einstein just didn't give much thought to or notice. How he would go to an important event and not wear socks. How he would get lost and not remember where he lived after going on a long walk. Never combing his hair. Staying over with friends and he wouldn't bring a change of clothes. Leaving in the morning to go sailing, only to have not returned, making people worry, searching, only to find him in his boat, having never left the dock, deep in thought. Sitting at a black tie event about to be given an award, and he would just sit and scribble notes, unaware that the attention was all for him, because he was deep in his own thoughts. Always, always deep in thought. And for all the facts, letters, quotes and descriptions, there was still one part that couldn't be revealed, which was, just what exactly went on in the man's head when he would go inside himself, oblivious to all around him. For all he wrote and shared,(for goodness sakes, scientists are still doing his homework aka gravitational waves) there seemed to hint at so much he didn't, probably couldn't share. I have always loved and admired Dr. Einstein, and after this read, the admiration and awe I have for him has grown. I gave it a 4 star, because the writing and information was sometimes repetitive, but the man himself, Mr. Albert Einstein gets the full 5 stars.

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