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Traveling At The Speed Of Thought

Author: Daniel Kennefick
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400882745
Size: 18.69 MB
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Since Einstein first described them nearly a century ago, gravitational waves have been the subject of more sustained controversy than perhaps any other phenomenon in physics. These as yet undetected fluctuations in the shape of space-time were first predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity, but only now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, are we on the brink of finally observing them. Daniel Kennefick's landmark book takes readers through the theoretical controversies and thorny debates that raged around the subject of gravitational waves after the publication of Einstein's theory. The previously untold story of how we arrived at a settled theory of gravitational waves includes a stellar cast from the front ranks of twentieth-century physics, including Richard Feynman, Hermann Bondi, John Wheeler, Kip Thorne, and Einstein himself, who on two occasions avowed that gravitational waves do not exist, changing his mind both times. The book derives its title from a famously skeptical comment made by Arthur Stanley Eddington in 1922--namely, that "gravitational waves propagate at the speed of thought." Kennefick uses the title metaphorically to contrast the individual brilliance of each of the physicists grappling with gravitational-wave theory against the frustratingly slow progression of the field as a whole. Accessibly written and impeccably researched, this book sheds new light on the trials and conflicts that have led to the extraordinary position in which we find ourselves today--poised to bring the story of gravitational waves full circle by directly confirming their existence for the very first time.

Traveling At The Speed Of Thought

Author: Daniel Kennefick
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691117270
Size: 71.18 MB
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"This book is a very impressive achievement. Kennefick skillfully introduces readers to some of the most abstruse yet fascinating concepts in modern physics stemming from Einstein's gravitational theory. And he charts the often haphazard, meandering, at times contentious development of these ideas over the course of nearly a century. More than an intellectual history, this book is a kind of detective story. Amid unfolding clues, partial insights, evolving institutions, the play of personalities, and hard thinking, the reader is treated to larger lessons about how theoretical physics works. Until now, we had virtually no serious study of what happened to Einstein's general relativity after he published his famous equations. Kennefick is among the first to begin to fill in this story."--David Kaiser, author of "Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics" "In this book, Kennefick describes a seventy-year quest, by three generations of physicists, to discover relativity's predictions about gravitational waves. Combining his skills as a historian with his mastery of relativity and his powers as a storyteller, he weaves a compelling narrative of intellectual battles and mathematical struggles--and extracts fascinating insights about the roles of mathematics, intuition, analogy, and style, standards of proof, and the sociology of competing schools."--Kip S. Thorne, California Institute of Technology "This book is a very important contribution both to Einstein studies and to the history of physics in general. It is also very timely given the effort underway to detect gravitational waves. The author is in an absolutely unique position to tell this story. He is extremely well connected to the community of Einstein scholars, to the community of physicists past and present working on gravitational waves, and to the group of people working on the history of the subject."--Michel Janssen, University of Minnesota

Gravity S Shadow

Author: Harry Collins
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 0226113795
Size: 16.73 MB
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According to the theory of relativity, we are constantly bathed in gravitational radiation. When stars explode or collide, a portion of their mass becomes energy that disturbs the very fabric of the space-time continuum like ripples in a pond. But proving the existence of these waves has been difficult; the cosmic shudders are so weak that only the most sensitive instruments can be expected to observe them directly. Fifteen times during the last thirty years scientists have claimed to have detected gravitational waves, but so far none of those claims have survived the scrutiny of the scientific community. Gravity's Shadow chronicles the forty-year effort to detect gravitational waves, while exploring the meaning of scientific knowledge and the nature of expertise. Gravitational wave detection involves recording the collisions, explosions, and trembling of stars and black holes by evaluating the smallest changes ever measured. Because gravitational waves are so faint, their detection will come not in an exuberant moment of discovery but through a chain of inference; for forty years, scientists have debated whether there is anything to detect and whether it has yet been detected. Sociologist Harry Collins has been tracking the progress of this research since 1972, interviewing key scientists and delineating the social process of the science of gravitational waves. Engagingly written and authoritatively comprehensive, Gravity's Shadow explores the people, institutions, and government organizations involved in the detection of gravitational waves. This sociological history will prove essential not only to sociologists and historians of science but to scientists themselves.

Gravity S Ghost And Big Dog

Author: Harry Collins
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022605232X
Size: 55.51 MB
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Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog brings to life science’s efforts to detect cosmic gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time are predicted by general relativity, and their discovery will not only demonstrate the truth of Einstein’s theories but also transform astronomy. Although no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected, the previous five years have been an especially exciting period in the field. Here sociologist Harry Collins offers readers an unprecedented view of gravitational wave research and explains what it means for an analyst to do work of this kind. Collins was embedded with the gravitational wave physicists as they confronted two possible discoveries—“Big Dog,” fully analyzed in this volume for the first time, and the “Equinox Event,” which was first chronicled by Collins in Gravity’s Ghost. Collins records the agonizing arguments that arose as the scientists worked out what they had seen and how to present it to the world, along the way demonstrating how even the most statistical of sciences rest on social and philosophical choices. Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog draws on nearly fifty years of fieldwork observing scientists at the American Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and elsewhere around the world to offer an inspired commentary on the place of science in society today.

Ripples In Spacetime

Author: Govert Schilling
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674971663
Size: 43.47 MB
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The detection of gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime—has already been called the scientific coup of this century. Govert Schilling recounts the struggles that threatened to derail the quest and describes the detector’s astounding precision, weaving far-reaching discoveries about the universe into a gripping story of ambition and perseverance.

An Einstein Encyclopedia

Author: Alice Calaprice
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400873363
Size: 37.91 MB
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This is the single most complete guide to Albert Einstein's life and work for students, researchers, and browsers alike. Written by three leading Einstein scholars who draw on their combined wealth of expertise gained during their work on the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, this authoritative and accessible reference features more than one hundred entries and is divided into three parts covering the personal, scientific, and public spheres of Einstein’s life. An Einstein Encyclopedia contains entries on Einstein’s birth and death, family and romantic relationships, honors and awards, educational institutions where he studied and worked, citizenships and immigration to America, hobbies and travels, plus the people he befriended and the history of his archives and the Einstein Papers Project. Entries on Einstein’s scientific theories provide useful background and context, along with details about his assistants, collaborators, and rivals, as well as physics concepts related to his work. Coverage of Einstein’s role in public life includes entries on his Jewish identity, humanitarian and civil rights involvements, political and educational philosophies, religion, and more. Commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the theory of general relativity, An Einstein Encyclopedia also includes a chronology of Einstein’s life and appendixes that provide information for further reading and research, including an annotated list of a selection of Einstein’s publications and a review of selected books about Einstein. More than 100 entries cover the rich details of Einstein’s personal, professional, and public life Authoritative entries explain Einstein’s family relationships, scientific achievements, political activities, religious views, and more More than 40 illustrations include photos of Einstein and his circle plus archival materials A chronology of Einstein’s life, appendixes, and suggestions for further reading provide essential details for further research

Buried Glory

Author: Istvan Hargittai
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199985596
Size: 51.27 MB
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A chronicle of the lives of twelve notable and celebrated Soviet scientists from the Cold War era, a time of great scientific achievement in the USSR.

Black Holes And Time Warps

Author: Kip S. Thorne
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393312768
Size: 26.28 MB
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Examines such phenomena as black holes, wormholes, singularities, gravitational waves, and time machines, exploring the fundamental principles that control the universe.

The Formative Years Of Relativity

Author: Hanoch Gutfreund
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400888689
Size: 50.60 MB
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First published in 1922 and based on lectures delivered in May 1921, Albert Einstein’s The Meaning of Relativity offered an overview and explanation of the then new and controversial theory of relativity. The work would go on to become a monumental classic, printed in numerous editions and translations worldwide. Now, The Formative Years of Relativity introduces Einstein’s masterpiece to new audiences. This beautiful volume contains Einstein’s insightful text, accompanied by important historical materials and commentary looking at the origins and development of general relativity. Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn provide fresh, original perspectives, placing Einstein’s achievements into a broader context for all readers. In this book, Gutfreund and Renn tell the rich story behind the early reception, spread, and consequences of Einstein’s ideas during the formative years of general relativity in the late 1910s and 1920s. They show that relativity’s meaning changed radically throughout the nascent years of its development, and they describe in detail the transformation of Einstein’s work from the esoteric pursuit of one individual communicating with a handful of colleagues into the preoccupation of a growing community of physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, and philosophers. This handsome edition quotes extensively from Einstein’s correspondence and reproduces historical documents such as newspaper articles and letters. Inserts are featured in the main text giving concise explanations of basic concepts, and short biographical notes and photographs of some of Einstein’s contemporaries are included. The first-ever English translations of two of Einstein’s popular Princeton lectures are featured at the book’s end.

Reinventing Gravity

Author: John W. Moffat
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0061982180
Size: 23.74 MB
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Einstein's gravity theory—his general theory of relativity—has served as the basis for a series of astonishing cosmological discoveries. But what if, nonetheless, Einstein got it wrong? Since the 1930s, physicists have noticed an alarming discrepancy between the universe as we see it and the universe that Einstein's theory of relativity predicts. There just doesn't seem to be enough stuff out there for everything to hang together. Galaxies spin so fast that, based on the amount of visible matter in them, they ought to be flung to pieces, the same way a spinning yo-yo can break its string. Cosmologists tried to solve the problem by positing dark matter—a mysterious, invisible substance that surrounds galaxies, holding the visible matter in place—and particle physicists, attempting to identify the nature of the stuff, have undertaken a slew of experiments to detect it. So far, none have. Now, John W. Moffat, a physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, offers a different solution to the problem. The cap­stone to a storybook career—one that began with a correspondence with Einstein and a conversation with Niels Bohr—Moffat's modified gravity theory, or MOG, can model the movements of the universe without recourse to dark matter, and his work chal­lenging the constancy of the speed of light raises a stark challenge to the usual models of the first half-million years of the universe's existence. This bold new work, presenting the entirety of Moffat's hypothesis to a general readership for the first time, promises to overturn everything we thought we knew about the origins and evolution of the universe.