Book Review: The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe

by Viviane 19 Replies latest social entertainment

  • Viviane

    I recently read this book and found it to be excellent. It's the story of how we never stop knowing, how science works (even when it doesn't), how gracefully math can describe the world we live in and more.

    The story begins with how Sir Isaac Newton, author of Pricipia Mathematica and holder of the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge, developed math to describe the gravity and the motion of the planets with no need god holding them in place. It moves to the attempt to use those laws to explain the aberration in the orbit of Mercury, the proposal of a planet or body named Vulcan, near Mercury that was causing the irregularity in the orbit, how the hunt for that body proceeded and how, ultimately a leap forward was made by Albert Einstein and others in developing relativity, a far better model that described the universe and propelled up forward.

    It's also the story of how we examine ideas, how we are sometimes trapped by our own thinking, the limits of what we can know based on what we can measure and how science is self-correcting, open to inspection and as much art and inspiration as a rigorous process.

    It's not a long read (I read it on Kindle), I spent 2 days reading it and plan to read it again, mainly because I read parts of it late at night when I was tired. It's not heavy on math or theory, but it does explain them sufficiently so non-science readers will understand the points.

    I highly recommend it.

  • prologos
    I will put it on my must read list. for there should be a planet at .1 AU, and there are,- among the exoplanets. thanks for the suggestion.
  • konceptual99

    Thanks for the recommendation. I was looking for something to read in the popular science vein.

  • tim3l0rd
    Thanks for the suggestion. I need to read more science. I would have been a math major had I actually gone to college. Maybe I still will at some point.
  • Dagney

    Thanks for the recommendation!

    I just saw Brian Green on Colbert this week discussing Einstein's explanation of gravity. I love this stuff!

  • truthseeker100
    I have read that book. I highly recommend it as well. The library works well. It a spot you can sit in silence.
  • cofty
    Thanks Viv
  • Oubliette

    Hi Viv, looks like a good read. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Since you liked that, you might enjoy:

    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.

  • _Morpheus

    Wow viv you have me interested! Im going to have to grab a copy and read that

  • cappytan
    developed math to describe the gravity and the motion of the planets with no need god holding them in place

    Of course God doesn't need to hold them in place. All he has to do is will it to be so. Silly, Viv. Don't you know?

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