e=mc2 : A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation

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'By the end of the astonishing "E=mc2", a dedicated reader will have achieved, if only by osmosis, an understanding of Einstein's theory of relativity and feel quite at ease dining with Nobel Prize winners. It's a lucid, even thrilling study: the very best kind of science journalism. I didn't know I could know so much.' - Fay Weldon, Books of the Year, "Washington Post". In 1905, Albert Einstein produced five historic papers that shattered many cherished scientific beliefs. One of those papers introduced the theory of special relativity and his legendary equation, E=mc2. Generations have grown up knowing that equation changed the shape of our world, but without understanding what it really means and why it is so significant. In this fascinating biography, David Bodanis tells the story of one of the greatest scientific discoveries in history. He looks at the elements 'e', 'm' and 'c'; and honours the scientists whose landmark discoveries paved the way for Einstein. He plots the course of the equation through the twentieth century, showing how our lives have been revolutionized by its applications; and looks far ahead to the future. But as with any biography, it is the human stories that really ignite the subject - stories of love, courage and tragedy, of near misses, disappointments and disasters that, brought together by Bodanis in this remarkable book, turn Einstein's seemingly impenetrable theory into a dramatic and accessible human achievement. 'Both informative and highly readable..."E=mc2" is a wonderful romp through Einstein's famous formula. This is everything a popular science book should be' - "Daily Express". 'Bodanis himself seems like an intellectual thermonuclear explosion, a kind of Jonathan Miller on speed...This is an outstanding introduction to relativity by a gifted practitioner of popular science' - "Independent". 'With skill and plenty of colourful anecdotes, Bodanis traces the intellectual ancestry of E=mc2...fast moving and entertaining' - "The Times." '"E=mc2" reveals, amongst other wonders, how many women physicists were involved in the story, which makes this morally improving, as well as fascinating reading' - George Walden, Books of the Year, "Sunday Telegraph". 'The book fizzes in the readers imagination' - "Times Educational Supplement".show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 130 x 196 x 24mm | 240g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • Pan Books
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 20b&w photographs, 1 line illustration
  • 0330391658
  • 9780330391658
  • 57,672

Review quote

'Bodanis himself seems like an intellectual thermonuclear explosion, a kind of Jonathan Miller on speed... This is an outstanding introduction to relativity by a gifted practitioner of popular science1 Independentshow more

About David Bodanis

David Bodanis is a writer and academic. His previous books include The Secret House and The Secret Family. Davis Bodanis lives in London.show more

Review Text

Bodanis has had the rather neat idea of explaining the significance of Albert Einstein's work by writing the 'biography' of the most famous equation in science. He says that his aim has also been to make the subject more accessible than other books do, but, if he fails in this, it is not because his book is particularly hard, but that there are more simple descriptions of relativity theory than he acknowledges. Where he is different is in the simplicity of his English, rather than of his science. The book reads as if it were written for teenagers, with very short, simple sentences and very short paragraphs. This leaves little scope for literary style or entertainment, but it does make it easy to follow, step by (sometimes painfully short) step. Covering a lot of the history of mathematics and physics, and the history of the nuclear bomb, this is rather an odd little book, which would be very suitable for a young reader who has just got turned on to science, or for an older person who who hasn't yet got the faintest idea what relativity is all about. Review by JOHN GRIBBIN. Editor's note: John Gribbin is the author of Einstein: A Life in Science (Kirkus UK)show more

Our customer reviews

I very much enjoyed this book. It takes you through the history in science that leads up to the atomic bomb and black holes. It is not all just about facts and science, but also the people behind it and there place in the world. It also mentions how women in science had never had their voice heard and/or remembered. I recommend to anyone who has an interest in science or just loves a good history story.show more
by Rebecca Kerr
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