God’s Equation

Posted by barb on Feb 21, 2004 in Books |

by Amir D. Aczel

Aczel traces the history of Einstein’s theory of relativity and the formulation (and subsequent use) of his field equation. I found that for me, the most interesting parts of the book were the tales from Einstein’s time.

For example, after Einstein developed the general relativistic equation, he wanted to test it, naturally. On possible way would be to measure the bending of light (or lack of bending) around the Sun during an eclipse. He collaborated with Freundlich, an observational astronomer, and an expedition to Crimea was set for August 1914. Unfortunately, Germany declared war on Russia in early August. Freundlich was already on his way to the observation site when these events escalated, and was arrested for being a German in Russian territory with suspicious-looking equipment (the telescope). So much for that attempt to test the theory.

The modern stories about the vindication of Einstein’s addition of the cosmological constant to the equation were less interesting for me. However, that might just be because I’ve heard countless colloquia and read countless abstracts on this topic.

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