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The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 23 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 26 Mar. 2014
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J8PIRB2

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Despite the quote from Marcus du Sautoy on the front referring to this book by astrophysics professor Pedro Ferreira as a ‘guide to the outer reaches of the universe’, this is far more a book about what goes on in human brains – and specifically the development and partial solutions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which turned our understanding of the nature of gravitation upside down.

For me it’s a three bears porridge book. We start off with a section that’s just right, then get a bit that’s far too long and end with a bit that’s far too short. (Okay, I know, the porridge was about temperature, not length, but this wasn’t supposed to be taken literally.) That ‘just right’ opening section gives us Einstein’s work and specifically the development of his masterpiece, the ‘perfect theory’, the general theory of relativity.

This takes a totally opposite approach to, say, Cox and Forshaw’s The Quantum Universe. Where that book does not shy away from presenting difficult detail, Ferreira’s swift, breezy and very readable style wafts us through without any detail at all. Biographically this results in a sanitisation of Einstein’s life (for instance, his first child is never mentioned, and Ferreira makes it sound as if he divorced his first wife before becoming romantically entangled with his cousin). Taking the advice given to Stephen Hawking literally, Ferreira doesn’t show a single equation, not even the central equation of general relativity. I think this is a pity – it is perfectly possible to explain what’s going on there without doing the maths. But his approach does make for an easy read.

The centre section is where Ferreira gets boggled down.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A history of General Relativity from Einstein's formulation to the present day, including the now-disputed announcement of the discovery of Gravity Waves. As a practising scientist, Ferreira has been in the centre of the latest developments and arguments of the theory. He manages to get through the book without a single mathematical equation, though sometimes in the descriptions, for example of 'hairy' black holes, you think that some mathematical formulation might explain the colourful language and descriptions. We learn that the field equations of General Relativity are very difficult and are solved for special cases, and clearly there is a level of mathematical understanding that excludes the general reader.

But if you want to understand importance of people like Stephen Hawking then this book is a very good introduction
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read it a while ago but remember it as a well written, and authorative account of twentieth century Physics. Very enjoyable too.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really well done history of relativity. Easy to read, with a good mix of insight into the theories, and the consequential discoveries and also the narratives of the characters involved up to and since Einstein's great work.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written without any of the usual incomprehensible jargon. A really good book to get some basics about relativity, gravity et al.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Awesomeness. Totally absorbing easy read. I can't judge the science but I can the readability. Unputdownable.
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