Einstein's Heroes: Imagining the World Through the Language of Mathematics

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Oxford University Press, 2005 - Mathematics - 323 pages
Imagine you are fluent in a magical language of prophecy, a language so powerful it can accurately describe things you cannot see or even imagine. Einstein's Heroes takes you on a journey of discovery about just such a miraculous language--the language of mathematics--one of humanity's most amazing accomplishments.
Blending science, history, and biography, this remarkable book reveals the mysteries of mathematics, focusing on the life and work of three of Albert Einstein's heroes: Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, and especially James Clerk Maxwell, whose portrait hung on Einstein's laboratory wall and whose work directly inspired the theory of relativity. In this engaging book, Robyn Arianrhod bridges the gap between science and literature, portraying mathematics as a language and arguing that a physical theory is a work of imagination involving the elegant and clever use of this language. Her narrative centers on the work of Maxwell, the first scientist to embrace the ambiguous relationship between language and reality--the first to accept that, in a very real sense, language is reality. The heart of the book illuminates how Maxwell, using the language of mathematics in a new and radical way, resolved the seemingly insoluble controversy between Faraday's idea of lines of force and Newton's theory of action-at-a-distance. In so doing, Maxwell not only produced the first complete mathematical description of electromagnetism, but actually predicted the existence of the radio wave, something utterly unexpected, teasing it out of the mathematical language itself.
Here then is a fascinating look at mathematics: its colorful characters, its historical intrigues, and above all its role as the uncannily accurate language of nature.
 

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Science for everyone

User Review  - gillym - Overstock.com

Anyone who wants to know more about how our world works should read this book. I took this book from the library and after 50 pages ordered my own copy. Read full review

Einstein's heroes: imagining the world through the language of mathematics

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Dealing with physics history at several different levels, Australian mathematician Arianrhod offers an intriguing blend of science, history, and biography. Noting that the widely admired Albert ... Read full review

Contents

A Seamless Intertwining
1
A Reluctant Revolutionary
8
Beetles Strings and Sealing Wax
14
The Nature of Physics
29
The Language of Physics
42
Why Newton Held the World in Thrall
51
Rites of Passage
83
A Fledgling Physicist
96
Mathematics as Language
130
The Magical Synthesis of Algebra and Geometry
172
Maxwells Mathematical Language
195
Maxwells Rainbow
229
Epilogue
274
Appendix
282
Bibliography
307
Index
316

Electromagnetic Controversy
104

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About the author (2005)


Robyn Arianrhod is a writer and mathematician whose passion for both literature and mathematics reflects her love of language. She teaches mathematics at Monashonorary University, where she is also an Honorary Research outside Associate.

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