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A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion: The Essential Scientific Works of Albert Einstein Paperback – 29 Sep 2009
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"Science Books & Films," June 2008
"Hawking's book is stimulating and provides the reader with motivation for studying physics and engaging the universe."
About the Author
Stephen Hawking has become a scientific celebrity" of sorts, ever since his A Brief History of Time was published. He has been described as the most intelligent man in the world today," according to the Chicago Sun-Times and as the scientific heir to Einstein, Newton, and Galileo" by People magazine. He lives in Cambridge, England.
Top customer reviews
I received this book as a present from a well-meaning friend who knows my interest in popular accounts of physics and who was misled by the marketing flannel. The obvious thought is that Hawking will have done for relativity what he did for time, and provided an understandable account, or at least a series of illuminating commentaries, on the classic papers by Einstein.
If you thought so, you have been fooled. There is an introduction to the book by Hawking, which presumably is just enough to allow the publishers to evade prosecution under the Trades Descriptions Act, and then you are left with the papers themselves, with no commentary, no explanation, nothing.
The saddest thing is that someone of Hawking's gifts really could have made his mark with this book. An object lesson in what is possible is Charles Petzold's recent book "The Annotated Turing", where he takes the reader step by step through Turing's 1936 paper in which he essentially laid the theoretical foundation for modern theories of computing.
Someone somewhere may take up the challenge. Meanwhile, it is hard to see whom this book can possibly satisfy. The serious student will want a proper modern textbook, and can download the original papers online. The average reader will be flummoxed by all but the most basic of the papers. What a waste of trees.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
If you want the essential scientific works of Einstein all in one beautiful book, this is it.
Granted, this is a *selection* from his writings, so you could have a more complete collection by buying his other books individually. But at more than 450 pages, this is a generous collection. And if Hawking thinks these are the essential works, I'm inclined to believe him. It's a mixed bag of popular writings, scientific autobiography, lectures, essays, and original papers.
The contents are as follows, each with a brief introduction by Hawking:
1. Selections from The Principle of Relativity - 7 original papers by Einstein from 1905-1919, including the original papers proposing the theory of relativity and E=mc2.
2. Relativity: The Special and General Theory - the complete contents, with the exception of Appendix V.
3. Sidelights on Relativity
4. Selections from The Meaning of Relativity
5. Selections from The Evolution of Physics
6. Autobiographical Notes
7. Selections from Out of My Later Years
(Shame on the publishers for making Hawking's named bigger than Einstein on the cover and for putting "Hawking on Einstein" on the spine when in fact "Einstein on Einstein" would be more accurate.)
For anyone who wants to read Einstein's explanations of his greatest discoveries, this is the book to get.