Show Book List

Buy from Amazon
Reviews elsewhere on the web: reviews

Edmund Blair Bolles

Einstein defiant : genius versus genius in the quantum revolution

Einstein's attitude to quantum theory is often portrayed as that of a reactionary, wanting a return to the ways of classical physics. In 'Einstein Defiant' we are told a different story - in the early 1920's it was Einstein himself who was in the forefront of the development of quantum theory with his use of the photon to explain electromagnetism, while Niels Bohr was looking for explanations based on the more classical, wave theory of light.

Although the work is entirely non-technical, Bolles does a very good job in describing the development of physics during revolutionary times. I would recommend the book to readers interested in the history of physics in the 20th century and more generally to anyone interested in the history of Europe between the wars.

The book starts at the end of the First World War, and continues until the end of the 1920's, and it illustrates well how Einstein fared in the worsening political situation. At the start he is influential enough to help secure the releaase of a number of professors being held by revolutionary students, but as time goes on, with the rise of the Nazi party, his position becomes more and more difficult.

My one criticism of the book would be the start of the second part, where the sequence gets very confused. The story has got as far as events of 1924. However, there are then flashbacks to his work on general relativity a decade before, interleaved with a tram journey made by Einstein and Bohr in 1922. Also I felt that the book was rather muddled in it's account of GR, and it's hard to see why this was included at all.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews