Coffee with Einstein

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Duncan Baird, 2008 - Fiction - 144 pages
2 Reviews
One of the most gifted scientists who ever lived, Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein revealed to us the elasticity of space and time and altered our entire conception of the universe. Over an imaginary coffee with top NASA physicist Carlos Calle, Einstein tells all about his revolutionary work on relativity, quest for a grand unifying theory of the cosmos, anxieties about the nuclear bomb he helped unleash, and personal matters too.

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If you need to know more about the theory of relativity without the math, know more intimate things about Einstein like his belief / disbelief in God, his passion other than science etc, then this is the book.
My main reason for taking up was to understand about quantum physics, the theory of relativity in simplified terms. The book addresses the following
a] Counting of atoms - He weighed the number of Avagadro number of molecules, which is a 24 bit number, to find the number of atoms
b] Special theory of relativity - This was formed in 1905 and was based on his thoughts as to what would happen if an observer pursued a beam of light with the same velocity of light. To explain that he formed 2 assumptions i] principle of relativity which states that laws of physics are the same for all observers whether they are in motion or in reset
ii] constancy of velocity of light i.e. no matter at what speed you travel.
Based on the above he deduced that the time and space change i.e they are relative. That's the essence of special theory of relativity.
Time changes as you move but you notice this effect as you approach the speed of light. In particular, it slows down for an observer within the car traveling at the speed of light, including the metabolic rate - thus acting as a time machine.
This phenomena is seen in sub-atomic particles and is explained using a thought experiment within the book.
c] General theory of relativity - While the special theory was only for constant motion (including 0 speed), the general theory encompassed even the accelerated motion. This theory goes to prove that space is not flat - it gets curved as is seen in the light moving close to a very high gravity star.
Both above theories proved that Newtonian physics as incomplete (and NOT inaccurate, which is the general belief) at atomic level where things move at speed of light. But Einstein himself feels that quantum physics is not the right approach due to its probabilistic view.
c] The equation E=mc^2 was derived using theory of relativity, which is measurable for large energies emitted as in nuclear reactions. While this equation was used in the destructive use as the atom bomb, it is also applicable to our sun, where millions of atoms convert their mass to energy to make life on earth possible.
d] Einstein tried working on the Unified theory covering all earlier theories but this work was not complete.
Among other things the following things are discussed in the book
a] Concept of God - Einstein did not believe in a personal or dogmatic God. But he definitely believed in a God that explained natures mysteries and its orderly harmony. He believed in a spirit vastly superior than man, and also appreciated its beauty and mystery.
b] Great people he revered - He treated the foll people as geniuses Galileo and Newton for their work related to astronomy and gravity. Faraday and Maxwell for their work on electromagnetism.
Max Planck and Bohr for their work related to atoms and quantum physics.
Non-scientists included Mozart for his songs and Benedict de Spinoza for
God and religion.
c] Interests other than science - He loved to play the violin and played piano once in a while. Liked music very much. He loved to sail but did not know swimming at all !!!
Thats Einstein in brief for you.

Review: Coffee with Einstein

User Review  - Wanda St.Hilaire - Goodreads

I swear; creativity seems to heighten while reading this book. Read full review


Foreword by Sir Roger Penrose
Now Lets Start Talking
The Theory of Relativity

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About the author (2008)

Carlos I. Calle, PhD, is a NASA senior research scientist with a doctorate in physics and extensive professional experience in Einstein's theories.

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