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Einstein's Miraculous Year: Five Papers That Changed the Face of Physics Hardcover – 19 Apr 1998

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New introduction by John Stachel edition (19 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691059381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691059389
  • Product Dimensions: 22.3 x 14.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,724,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"In these excellent new translations of Einstein's papers, the economy and freshness of Einstein's style come through with undiminished force. . . . To re-read these papers is to relive perhaps the most dramatic year in the history of physics."--Werner Israel, Physics World.


"Read this beautifully translated and edited collection and enjoy an encounter with one of the greatest minds at work and five of the greatest physics papers of [the twentieth] century."--David C. Cassidy, American Journal of Physics



"I find myself thrilled by these papers. Why? Because through the original choice of words and arguments, through the simple but profound ideas and thought processes . . . I have been able to gaze into the mind of this great scientist in a way that no distillation or restatement or commentary would allow. In these papers one can see an enormously gifted human being grappling with the nature of the world."--Alan Lightman, Atlantic Monthly



"Drawing heavily on his subject's autobiographical reflections about the relationship between thought and language in his struggles to understand deep physical problems, Stachel paints a not-unfamiliar picture of Einstein as a solitary genius whose driving ideas were entirely his own."--David E. Rowe, Times Higher Education Supplement



"John Stachel devotes several pages to rebutting recent claims that Einstein's first wife, Mileva Maric, co-authored the 1905 papers. . . . [R]elativity and the quantum revolution sprang from the subtle gray matter of Einstein's brain alone."--PD Smith, The Guardian



"Einstein's Miraculous Year provides a well-considered look back at the seminal ideas that eventually helped make Einstein a household name. . . . [I]t's never too late to take a closer look at the century-old work that revolutionized [physics]."--Ryan Wyatt, Planetarian

From the Back Cover


"It is particularly remarkable that a single physicist--Albert Einstein--has such extraordinarily deep perceptions of the workings of Nature that he laid foundation stones of . . .[the] twentieth-century revolutions [in physics] in the single year of 1905."--From the foreword by Roger Penrose, Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford


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By Jet Lagged TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback
In 1905 Einstein produced five papers. One of them, he told his friend Besso, was "revolutionary". And so it proved to be. After the electrodynamics one, physics would never be the same again.

Here are these papers from that miraclous year all collected under one roof.

I have done this review today on Einstein's birthday, 14th March. A curiosity is that, in American chronology this is "3/14". But 3.14... is the number Pi. How strange.
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Format: Paperback
Its nice to read Einsteins actual work rather than someones interpretation of it. It is sometimes difficult to follow as there is little to no explanation of the maths, it is stated and you either know it or you dont. However, it is well worth buying this book if you want an insight into how he worked and dont mind reading a few sections twice.
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Format: Hardcover
I do not find this work leading me to an understanding of relativity, which was my goal. The author states that Paper 4 leads to demonstrating E=MC2, but it is not there to my eye. I have in the past seen a succinct derivation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, the real thing; not just inaccurate verbal metaphor 7 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am a nonscientist, general reader, but have read many popular accounts of special relativity. I have always felt shortchanged, though, just at the point where things get most interesting. I think that is because the real physics does lie in the equations, and verbal metaphors fall short. For me, here, for the first time, I see where the science is: just beyond the metaphors. Although I do not follow all the math by any means, so it is partly like listening to a foreign language, I recognized enough of the concepts to get a glimmer: and it is stunning. Here is Einstein himself, deriving E=mc2 in paper 4; so briefly, so lucidly (although another reader from California seems to have missed it). Paper 3 on special relativity is, even to this nonscientist, dazzling.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars E = mc² 31 Oct. 2007
By Thomas Wikman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is a compilation of five important papers including Albert Einstein's dissertation, all published in Annalen der Physik the year 1905. The papers are;

(1) "A new determination of molecular dimensions". Which is Einstein's dissertation.

(2) On the motion of Small particles Suspended in Liquids at Rest Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat. This is what is referred to as Brownian Motion.

(3) On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. This is what is referred to as the special theory of relativity. This paper is to some degree a synthesis of work done by H.A. Lorentz and Henri Poincare, which is common in science (and Lorentz is given his fair due).

(4) Does the Inertia of a Body Depend on Its Energy Content? This is essentially E = mc² and is an extension of the aforementioned paper.

(5) On a heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light. This is his paper on the photo electric effect and the quantum hypothesis. This is what Einstein got his Nobel price for. However, both (2) and (3) above are often considered to be Nobel Prize work.

The way I see it, these papers are of great historical value and it is awesome to be able to read the originals. However, I do not recommend this book as a good introduction to any of this material. As an engineering physics student I encountered most of the content of these papers in a more complete and clearer format. For example, the special theory of relativity is explained better in many text books on physics. Remember these papers are research papers not educational texts. That does not mean that I endorse the many non-mathematical popularizations of the topic that often end up misleading the reader. I should add, however, that in many texts on the special theory of relativity its foundation in electrodynamics is lost or downplayed, so reading the original will remind the student where it really came from.

I was surprised to see how the formula K0 - K1 = Lv²/ (2V²) was derived. This formula states the change in the kinetic energy of a body emitting radiation with energy L/2 in each direction. An implicit approximation (K = mv²/2, classic kinetic energy) was cancelled out by a MacLaurin/Taylor expansion and a corresponding approximation (when dropping terms). This is not wrong, and the proof is still valid, but it seems unnecessary to use approximations from classical mechanics when it is just as easy to make do without them. In any case from this formula it is concluded that when a body that emits the energy L in the form of radiation, then its mass decreases by L/V², or E = mc² ("V" is "c" plus classic formula above).

However, the formula E = mc² can be easily derived directly from the special theory of relativity without any approximation, which he did at a later date. You integrate E = F S (where S is distance) using the relativistic formulas for force and mass. In any case the paper proves the genial insight that "that the mass of a body is a measure of its energy content", which is worth perhaps yet another Nobel Prize. It is also short paper.

I can add that Einstein's opus magnum, the general theory of relativity, came much later 1915/1916. Some other huge achievements were "stimulated emission" the principle behind the laser, Bose-Einstein statistics, and relativistic cosmology. In addition he also did the following, critical opalescence, the geometrization of physics, unified field theory, the EPR paradox, the Einstein refrigerator, a refrigerator without any moving parts, and much more. So 1905 was a very good start, a miracle year, but still just the beginning.

Anyway, reading the originals is thrilling. It is recommended reading to anyone who is literate in physics, and also recommended to anyone who would like to have these master pieces in his library.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Heart of the Matter 24 Aug. 2005
By Severin Crisp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a retired physicist I have taken great interest in the history of science, especially the times around the turn of the twentieth century when so many new ideas were put forward which have the basis of quantum mechanics and our current thinking from cosmology to quarks. This little volume is recommended either for bedtime reading or more serious study. The personal history reveals aspects previously unknown to me and the five papers themselves, in their original form, demonstrate Einstein's wonderful insightfulness and ability to make use of every aspect of a problem. Tney are a bit heavy going in themselves, and the mathematics is not for everyone, but what else would one expect from a distillation of so much into so relatively few words. I recommend this book to both the scintist and the layman who seeks a better understanding of these momentous mental leaps.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than just Einstein's 1905 papers 2 Dec. 2009
By Metallurgist - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book so that I could read Einstein's 1905 papers (in English translations). The book gives you these (actually instead of the paper written from his thesis, the book provides the thesis itself), and much more. The book starts with a short, interesting, forward by Roger Penrose, which puts these papers in the context of previous and contemporaneous physics. There is then a lengthy (70 page) new introduction to this centenary edition of the book. This introduction provides interesting historical information about Einstein's life and the development of these 1905 papers, particularly with regard to the charge (clearly refuted in this introduction) that Einstein's wife Mileva was an unsigned co-author of these 1905 papers (or the perhaps the real author). Then there is the original 25-page introduction that provides more information regarding the development of these 1905 papers. Following this are the papers themselves, each of which is preceded by a technical discussion of the paper. Finally, there are editor's notes following each paper that correct mistakes and help explain a few points.

The material that is provided in addition to the papers actually occupies more pages than the papers themselves and is definitely a very welcome addition. In fact, I think that they are a primary reason to get his book. Einstein's papers, while generally quite short are not the easiest to follow (at least I found this to be the case), so the notes preceding and following each paper defiantly helped me understand the papers and the context in which they were written. This is happily a case where I got much more than I had expected.

I highly recommend this book to those interested in Einstein, the history of science and the development of his physics. A reader will find some prior understanding of physics to be very helpful, but there is enough general historical material to make the book interesting to those without such a background.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure 22 July 2006
By Illuminatus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Translations of these five revolutionary papers, written in Einstein's annus mirabilis of 1905, have been widely available from other sources. However, it is a delight to have them compiled in this handsome, low cost edition. And the thoughful foreward by Roger Penrose and the interesting historical introductions and annotations by John Stachel make this text invaluable.

As for the papers themselves, they still serve as pedagogically excellent introductions to the fields they created. And they provide stunning insight into the workings of one of the most amazing intellects the world has ever seen.

This book should be part of any science library worthy of the name.
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