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Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics [Hardcover]

Fulvio Melia

Price: 17.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

18 Sep 2009
Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity describes the effect of gravitation on the shape of space and the flow of time. But for more than four decades after its publication, the theory remained largely a curiosity for scientists; however accurate it seemed, Einstein's mathematical code - represented by six interlocking equations - was one of the most difficult to crack in all of science. That is, until a twenty-nine-year-old Cambridge graduate solved the great riddle in 1963. Roy Kerr's solution emerged coincidentally with the discovery of black holes that same year and provided fertile testing ground - at long last - for general relativity. Today, scientists routinely cite the Kerr solution, but even among specialists, few know the story of how Kerr cracked Einstein's code. Fulvio Melia here offers an eyewitness account of the events leading up to Kerr's great discovery. "Cracking the Einstein Code" vividly describes how luminaries such as Karl Schwarzschild, David Hilbert, and Emmy Noether set the stage for the Kerr solution; how Kerr came to make his breakthrough; and, how scientists such as Roger Penrose, Kip Thorne, and Stephen Hawking used the accomplishment to refine and expand modern astronomy and physics. Today, more than 300 million supermassive black holes are suspected of anchoring their host galaxies across the cosmos, and the Kerr solution is what astronomers and astrophysicists use to describe much of their behavior. By unmasking the history behind the search for a real world solution to Einstein's field equations, Melia offers a firsthand account of an important but untold story. Sometimes dramatic, often exhilarating, but always attuned to the human element, "Cracking the Einstein Code" is ultimately a showcase of how important science gets done.

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"Cracking the Einstein Code is at once an explanation of what black holes are, a description of their place in the universe, and a scientific biography of Kerr. The uniqueness of Melia's book lies with Kerr's biography, a story that deserved to be told but wasn't until now. Elegant with expert pacing." - Eric Poisson, University of Guelph"

About the Author

Fulvio Melia is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Arizona and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, The Galactic Supermassive Black Hole.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to Roy Kerr 5 Jan 2010
By Happy Hippo - Published on
Most people have heard about black holes but most people do not who Roy Kerr is and how his work has revolutionized the study of black holes. This little book is a welcome introduction to this little known, private genius! Part scientific biography and part introduction to black holes and the state of the current knowledge about them. It has some rare and interesting photographs of the 1962 relativity conference in Warsaw. We need a full length biography of the man dubbed by the NZ press as the "Man of Mystery", but till that time, thanks to Fulvio Melia for writing this small book. Highly Recommended!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars human side of the equations 17 July 2012
By W. Jamison - Published on
This is a nice short history of the individuals and their inch by inch steps towards taking Einstein's equations and using them to reach methods of measurement of spinning bodies including what eventually became known as black holes. It gives a very human sense of who these individuals were and the sort of human effort that pays off after many years and careers of tedious but worthwhile work trying to do what may not even pay off in the end - but in this case, did. It also shows how the concurrent development in computer technology played an important role in this progress. An interesting point explains how little Einstein knew himself where these equations would lead.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking the Einstein Code 18 Jan 2013
By Sassan31 - Published on
A very good read for one wanting to understand the concept of relativity in a straightforward and elegant manner. An excellent dedication to Roy Kerr who has helped us better understand the nature of relativity and black hole physics. A highly recommended read.
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