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

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Oxford University Press, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
2 Reviews
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 work directly inspired the theory of relativity. 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. 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, 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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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

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

User Review  - Tom Adams - Goodreads

This book presents a very lovely view of mathematics, presenting it as a "language in its own right". And the author had the inspired notion of structuring her book around the work of three ... 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
The Magical Synthesis of Algebra and Geometry
172
Maxwells Mathematical Language
195
Maxwells Rainbow
229
A Revolution in Physics
248
Epilogue
274
Appendix
282
Notes and Sources
284
Bibliography
307

Electromagnetic Controversy
104
Mathematics as Language
130

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About the author (2006)


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

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