Einstein in Bohemia / Michael D. Gordin.

By: Gordin, Michael D [author.]Material type: TextTextSeries: JSTOR eBooksPublisher: Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, [2020]Edition: 1stDescription: 1 online resourceContent type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780691199849; 0691199841Additional physical formats: Print version:: Einstein in BohemiaDDC classification: 530.092 | B LOC classification: QC16.E5Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Introduction : a spacetime interval -- First and second place -- The speed of light -- Anti-Prague -- Einstein positive and Einstein negative -- The hidden Kepler -- Out of Josefov -- From revolution to normalization -- Conclusion : Princeton, Tel Aviv, Prague.
Summary: "Though Einstein is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of modern science, he was in many respects marginal. Despite being one of the creators of quantum theory, he remained skeptical of it, and his major research program while in Princeton -the quest for a unified field- ultimately failed. In this book, Michael Gordin explores this paradox in Einstein's life by concentrating on a brief and often overlooked interlude: his tenure as professor of physics in Prague, from April of 1911 to the summer of 1912. Though often dismissed by biographers and scholars, it was a crucial year for Einstein both personally and scientifically: his marriage deteriorated, he began thinking seriously about his Jewish identity for the first time, he attempted a new explanation for gravitation-which though it failed had a significant impact on his later work-and he met numerous individuals, including Max Brod, Hugo Bergmann, Philipp Frank, and Arnošt Kolman, who would continue to influence him. In a kind of double-biography of the figure and the city, this book links Prague and Einstein together. Like the man, the city exhibits the same paradox of being both central and marginal to the main contours of European history. It was to become the capital of the Czech Republic but it was always, compared to Vienna and Budapest, less central in the Habsburg Empire. Moreover, it was home to a lively Germanophone intellectual and artistic scene, thought the vast majority of its population spoke only Czech. By emphasizing the marginality and the centrality of both Einstein and Prague, Gordin sheds new light both on Einstein's life and career and on the intellectual and scientific life of the city in the early twentieth century"-- Provided by publisher.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.

Introduction : a spacetime interval -- First and second place -- The speed of light -- Anti-Prague -- Einstein positive and Einstein negative -- The hidden Kepler -- Out of Josefov -- From revolution to normalization -- Conclusion : Princeton, Tel Aviv, Prague.

"Though Einstein is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of modern science, he was in many respects marginal. Despite being one of the creators of quantum theory, he remained skeptical of it, and his major research program while in Princeton -the quest for a unified field- ultimately failed. In this book, Michael Gordin explores this paradox in Einstein's life by concentrating on a brief and often overlooked interlude: his tenure as professor of physics in Prague, from April of 1911 to the summer of 1912. Though often dismissed by biographers and scholars, it was a crucial year for Einstein both personally and scientifically: his marriage deteriorated, he began thinking seriously about his Jewish identity for the first time, he attempted a new explanation for gravitation-which though it failed had a significant impact on his later work-and he met numerous individuals, including Max Brod, Hugo Bergmann, Philipp Frank, and Arnošt Kolman, who would continue to influence him. In a kind of double-biography of the figure and the city, this book links Prague and Einstein together. Like the man, the city exhibits the same paradox of being both central and marginal to the main contours of European history. It was to become the capital of the Czech Republic but it was always, compared to Vienna and Budapest, less central in the Habsburg Empire. Moreover, it was home to a lively Germanophone intellectual and artistic scene, thought the vast majority of its population spoke only Czech. By emphasizing the marginality and the centrality of both Einstein and Prague, Gordin sheds new light both on Einstein's life and career and on the intellectual and scientific life of the city in the early twentieth century"-- Provided by publisher.

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Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

For 16 months between 1911 and 1912, Albert Einstein taught theoretical physics at the German University of Prague, the capital of Bohemia and an important provincial center in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This part of his biography is traditionally given little attention, but in this deeply researched and documented study, Gordin (Princeton Univ.) treats this brief period in Einstein's life as a prism through which the physicist refracts a broad range of intellectual, personal, scientific, and religious topics. The author sees Einstein as a window to understand Prague, and vice-versa, and reveals, in elegant and engaging prose, stimulating insights into many larger issues. These include how Einstein's theories of relativity developed and were received; how he understood himself; the ways his Jewish identity and his views on pacifism, religion, and Zionism evolved; what shaped his attitudes toward nationalism; and the significance of the friendships he formed with influential literary, philosophical, and scientific figures in Prague. Readers will find that potentially difficult topics--such as relativity--are treated in a very approachable way. Seven illustrations enhance this volume's insights. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. --Paul W. Knoll, emeritus, University of Southern California

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Michael D. Gordin is the Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University. His books include A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitrii Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table and Five Days in August: How World War II Became a Nuclear War (both Princeton). He lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Twitter @GordinMichael

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