on 8 April 2013
As an academic historian of science specialising in astronomy in the twentieth century, I was already familiar with the factual elements of this historical novel. Therefore I am delighted to say that the historical narrative and the well-observed details are correct, with one exception that I'll come to in a moment. The narrative is splendidly done, and the tale about the discovery of the expanding universe is nicely paced. The personal details are important in this book, where you will learn a great many facts about the personal life of Einstein and the many scientists with whom he interacting without having to labour through one of the many giant tomes of biography of Einstein.
In this account I am greatly impressed by the handling of Lemaître's science: his finding of expanding solutions of Einstein's equations, his relationship with Eddington, and above all treading the dividing line between science and religion. This latter challenge is beautifully handled by the author.
The one point on which I am doubtful, but I stand to be corrected is this. I do not think Hubble and his assistants measured redshifts at the 100-inch. Hubble used Slipher's redshifts as tabulated by Stromberg. Nor do I think Hubble did very much hands on observing -- much of that was left to the former mule driver Milton Humason -- Hubble defined, Humason was the dutiful observer, Hubble reduced the observations. But these are minor quibbles. This book is a significant contribution to popular science, and a great account of how we discovered the universe
on 28 March 2013
As within the first two books, this really brings alive the people, the processes as well as the material of physics - and, in an exemplary way, the relations between science and religion.
I consider my self reasonably familiar with the physics and basics of the histories; and recommend these volumes strongly for anyone who wants a very readable, engaging, correct and insightful introduction... Not least of all for those who want to think about science & religion in a more considered way than as presented by the ranting, radical atheists - and u say that as an atheists!
One can only hope that Stuart will find more material for this kind if book. It's a service to science and the public.
on 3 May 2013
As with the previous books in the trilogy, Dr Clark has produced a very well-written account of the people and the science. I devoured this in two sittings. I teach astronomy to adults and have recommended this trilogy to my students; those who have followed up on this recommendation have reported that they have found the books to be accessible and informative. This means that I can say, with confidence, that the books are suitable for anyone with an interest in the subject matter and that it is not necessary to have prior knowledge or understanding of it.
I have to say that I did not find this third book quite as compelling as the first two. That it is still worthy of 5 stars is indicative of the excellent quality of the trilogy as a whole. Very highly recommended.
on 17 June 2014
The trilogy of books by Stuart are well worth reading. However, I found the first half of the final book rather less entertaining than the first two. It is perhaps the subject of the events of the First World War in continental Europe and Einstein's life through it. It is much more a social history rather than scientific history, which is totally valid but perhaps not my cup of tea. The second half which deals with the resumption of scientific advancement after the war, particularly in the USA is much more to my liking. Thw whole trilogy is highly recommended.