Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Locksmith of the Cosmos

I am not a math or science buff. So it may come as a surprise to some that the next book on my reading list after One Christmas in Washington was a biography of the great physicist Albert Einstein. I picked up a copy of Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson at the National Book Festival in September, got it signed by Isaacson, and then put it aside because of the limited time I have to read while at school. When I picked it up a few days ago, however, I quickly became engrossed in it and remained so until I finished it. It's a highly engaging biography, focusing largely not on the theories themselves (although there is an appropriate amount of scientific mumbo-jumbo as Isaacson attempts to explain Einstein's theories of general and special relativity, unified field theory, and assorted pieces of information about quantum mechanics). Instead, Isaacson focuses predominantly on the development of Einstein's creativity and rebelliousness, and how those traits lead to his development of masterful theories of physics that changed our understanding of the universe. It also dealt with how Einstein's views on politics and religion related to his understanding of science and the world, and as such largely morphed throughout his life. All things told, a great read about a fascinating man.

"He was a loner with an intimate bond to humanity, a rebel who was suffused with reverence. And thus it was that an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atoms and the universe."

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