The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud and the Search for Hidden Universes

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9781841152783: The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud and the Search for Hidden Universes

Though they met just once, and even then didn’t know what to make of each other’s work, Einstein and Freud had more in common than they might have imagined. Each ran out of evidence using the traditional scientific methods that had worked well since the dawn of the scientific revolution and each adopted new scientific methods that opened up unprecedented intellectual landscapes—relativity in Einstein’s case, the unconscious in Freud’s. In this brilliant, elegant book, renowned science writer Richard Panek traces the creation of two new sciences—cosmology and psychoanalysis—that have allowed us for more than a hundred years to explore previously unimaginable universes without and within.

Like a nonfiction version of Einstein’s Dreams, Panek’s The Invisible Century is a story of a revolution in thought that altered not only what or how much we see, but also the very nature of seeing.

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About the Author:

Richard Panek regularly writes about science for The New York Times and Natural History, where he has served as a monthly astronomy columnist. He has also written about astronomy and cosmology for Esquire, Outside, Discover, World Book Encyclopedia, and National Public Radio. His previous book is Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens.

From Publishers Weekly:

Veteran science writer Panek's pairing of the dual icons Einstein and Freud, whose labors were in widely disparate fields, is both natural and inspired. He uses his formidable writing skills to illuminate two of the 20th century's most notable accomplishments, the theory of general relativity and the discovery of the unconscious, weaving them into an informative and interesting history of the scientific method. Panek's explanation of Einstein's theory of relativity is excellent, and readers will with pleasure understand this counterintuitive concept. He is equally good at describing how Freud developed his theory of the unconscious. Panek also describes how the two rejected the 19th-century scientific paradigm, which held that the more accurate measurement of physical aspects of the universe would unravel its secrets. As Panek (Seeing and Believing) states, "...Einstein and Freud wound up venturing where their contemporaries did not because at a certain point, they didn't investigate. They thought. They reconceived the problem." Besides providing valuable biographical detail about both Freud and Einstein, Panek demonstrates a wide-ranging knowledge of the development of scientific thought and philosophy, as well as the major developments in both cosmology and the study of human anatomy. There is a remarkable amount of information in this short book, and Panek's valuable thesis—that the triumph of 20th-century science was the discovery of the invisible workings of the universe and ourselves—is well made.
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