God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe

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9780385334853: God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe

Are we on the verge of solving the riddle of creation using Einstein's "greatest blunder"?

In a work that is at once lucid, exhilarating and profound, renowned mathematician Dr. Amir Aczel, critically acclaimed author of Fermat's Last Theorem, takes us into the heart of science's greatest mystery.

In January 1998, astronomers found evidence that the cosmos is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The way we perceive the universe was changed forever. The most compelling theory cosmologists could find to explain this phenomenon was Einstein's cosmological constant, a theory he conceived--and rejected---over eighty years ago.

Drawing on newly discovered letters of Einstein--many translated here for the first time--years of research, and interviews with prominent mathematicians, cosmologists, physicists, and astronomers, Aczel takes us on a fascinating journey into "the strange geometry of space-time," and into the mind of a genius. Here the unthinkable becomes real: an infinite, ever-expanding, ever-accelerating universe whose only absolute is the speed of light.

Awesome in scope, thrilling in detail, God's Equation is storytelling at its finest.

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Review:

Who would have thought a mathematical constant would make such an engaging character? God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe, mathematician Amir Aczel's tale of the search for a scientific explanation of the universe, features the cosmological constant in a role as complex as Einstein's. The great genius referred to it as his "greatest blunder," but recent events in the world of astrophysics have brought the prodigal term back into the fold as an important part of his field equation. Aczel is a powerful storyteller, and makes no secret of his admiration for Einstein; much of the book revolves around his conquest of general relativity. Integrating relativity with gravitation was no easy task (even for Einstein), but the author deftly steers the reader away from the sticky stuff and focuses attention on concepts of importance.

Aczel shows Einstein's aesthetic troubles with the cosmological constant, which preceded theoretical and experimental problems leading to its abandonment. The universe was caught in the act of expansion by Edwin Hubble, and the constant, originally invoked to maintain a steady-state universe, was unnecessary. Fortunately, though, the mathematics underlying the constant had become important tools for physicists; observations in 1997 and 1998 by Saul Perlmutter, Neta Bahcall, and others showed that the universe will continue expanding indefinitely and sent theorists back to the drawing board to revise their equations. The cosmological constant returned triumphant, and while its inventor might never have approved of it, today's scientific community gives it an honored role in God's Equation. --Rob Lightner

From the Back Cover:

ARE WE ON THE VERGE OF SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF CREATION USING EINSTEIN'S "GREATEST BLUNDER"?

In a work that is at once lucid, exhilarating, and profound, renowned mathematician Dr. Amir Aczel, critically acclaimed author of Fermat's Last Theorem, takes us into the heart of science's greatest mystery. In January 1998, astronomers found evidence that the cosmos is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The way we perceive the universe was changed forever. The most compelling theory cosmologists could find to explain this phenomenon was Einstein's cosmological constant, a theory he conceived -- and rejected -- over eighty years ago.

Drawing on newly discovered letters of Einstein -- many translated here for the first time -- years of research, and interviews with prominent mathematicians, cosmologists, physicists, and astronomers, Aczel takes us on a fascinating journey into "the strange geometry of space-time", and into the mind of a genius. Here the unthinkable becomes real: an infinite, ever-expanding, ever-accelerating universe whose only absolute is the speed of light. Awesome in scope, thrilling in detail, God's Equation is storytelling at its finest

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