From Jim Holt, the New York Times bestselling author of Why Does the World Exist?, comes an entertaining and accessible guide to the most profound scientific and mathematical ideas of recent centuries in When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought. Does time exist? What is infinity? Why do mirrors reverse left and right but not up and down? In this scintillating collection, Holt explores the human mind, the cosmos, and the thinkers who’ve tried to encompass the latter with the former. With his trademark clarity and humor, Holt probes the mysteries of quantum mechanics, the quest for the foundations of mathematics, and the nature of logic and truth. Along the way, he offers intimate biographical sketches of celebrated and neglected thinkers, from the physicist Emmy Noether to the computing pioneer Alan Turing and the discoverer of fractals, Benoit Mandelbrot. Holt offers a painless and playful introduction to many of our most beautiful but least understood ideas, from Einsteinian relativity to string theory, and also invites us to consider why the greatest logician of the twentieth century believed the U.S. Constitution contained a terrible contradiction—and whether the universe truly has a future.
Ron Cowen offers a sweeping account of the century of experimentation that has consistently confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity. He shows how we got from Eddington’s pivotal observations of the 1919 eclipse to the Event Horizon Telescope, aimed at starlight wrapping around the black hole at our galaxy’s center.
Why do human beings behave the way they do? What governs how they act out their daily lives? It is not difficult to provide the traditional argument that it’s largely a matter of the culture in which we live, a product of the influences of family, peers, teachers, religious leaders, the movies we see, the books we read, and so forth. Such behavior often contradicts the independent nature of the human spirit, demanding a certain compromise—we depend on others for our needs, and to obtain these, we must behave accordingly. Evidence grows, however, that, in addition, much of our behavior has its roots in biological processes. Such information indicates that, whether we like to accept it or not, our conduct is often governed by biochemical agents within in the brain, an expression of our animalistic ancestral past, governed by our genetic inheritance, and all beyond the level of our conscious decision-making. This book addresses a series of such behaviors—love, jealousy, travel, suicide, etc.—and examines new-found perspectives that speak to a biological component in explaining just why we behave as we do. Certainly, such scientific insights are limited and currently provide only a narrow insight into human behavior. However, this information clearly forecasts the coming of a greater appreciation that, as members of the animal kingdom, we remain biological beings as well as members of a cooperative society.
Fractal dynamics provide an unparalleled tool for understanding the evolution of natural complexity throughout physical, biological, and psychological realms. This book’s conceptual framework helps to reconcile several persistent dichotomies in the natural sciences, including mind-brain, linear-nonlinear, subjective-objective, and even personal-transpersonal processes. A fractal approach is especially useful when applied to recursive processes of consciousness, both within their ordinary and anomalous manifestations. This novel way to study the interconnection of seemingly divided wholes encompasses multiple dimensions of experience and being. It brings together experts in diverse fields—neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, physicists, physiologists, psychoanalysts, mathematicians, and professors of religion and music composition—to demonstrate the value of fractals as model, method, and metaphor within psychology and related social and physical sciences. The result is a new perspective for understanding what has often been dismissed as too subjective, idiosyncratic, and ineffably beyond the scope of science, bringing these areas back into a natural-scientific framework.
Founded in 1930, the Institute for Advanced Study was conceived of high ideals for the future of America and its system of higher education, and was made possible by sibling philanthropists Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld. Guided by education expert Abraham Flexner, the Bambergers created an independent institution devoted to the pursuit of knowledge. The Institute for Advanced Study opened its arms to scholars “without regard to race, creed, or sex.” It provided a haven for Jewish intellectuals fleeing Nazi Germany, including Albert Einstein, who remained on the permanent faculty until his death in 1955, and became the intellectual home of such luminaries as J. Robert Oppenheimer, John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel, Marston Morse, Oswald Veblen, Hermann Weyl, Homer A. Thompson, Erwin Panofsky, George F. Kennan, Clifford Geertz, and Freeman Dyson.
It is the summer of 1967 and, with one more year of high school to go, Leo Suther still has a lot to learn. He's in love with Allie Donovan, the beautiful girl who has turned his head ever since she moved to his small Massachusetts town. And he feels a real draw to the blues his father has taught him. Leo soon finds himself in the middle of a consuming love affair - and an intense testing of his political values by Allie's father, who challenges him on the escalating Vietnam conflict and forces him to examine just where he stands in relation to the people in his life. Throughout his - and the nation's - unforgettable 'summer of love', Leo is learning the language of the blues, which seem to echo the mourning he feels for his dead mother, his occasionally distant father, and the youth that is fast giving way to manhood.
An Introduction to the Theory of Relativity and Gravitation
Author: Moritz Schlick
Publisher: Great Minds
This is one of the clearest expositions in layperson's terms of Einstein's theory of relativity and its paradigm-shifting implications for philosophy and commonsense notions of reality. Moritz Schlick, the influential German philosopher and leader of the positivist school of philosophy known as the Vienna Circle, wrote this short work in 1919 specifically to introduce readers unfamiliar with Einstein's theories to the profound importance of the physicist's immense contributions. Einstein himself reviewed Schlick's work before publication and is thanked in the preface for "giving me many useful hints." With a talent for illustrative analogies and a concise, lucid style of presentation, Schlick explains both the special and the general theories of relativity. Beginning with the older Newtonian view of space, time, and the laws governing matter, the author proceeds to show how Einstein's theories solved certain problems inherent in the old view and provided a radical new conception of reality. Separate chapters discuss the special principle of relativity, the geometrical relativity of space, the mathematical formulation of special relativity, the inseparability of geometry and physics in experience, the relativity of motions and the connection with inertia and gravitation, the general theory of relativity, the significance of Einstein's fundamental new law, the finitude of the universe, and the impact of Einstein's ideas on philosophy. Since their original publication, numerous experiments have confirmed Einstein's ideas. Thus, Schlick's work continues to be a valuable and highly accessible explication of one of science's most enduring achievements.