Richard Panek

The invisible century - Einstein, Freud and the search for hidden universes

In this book Panek compares the work of two very well known scientists - Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. Freud's work on the unconscious mind is linked to the hidden workings of the universe which Einstein played a part in uncovering - hence the 'Invisible' in the title - although I do think that this analogy is pushed a bit too far.
There is also the question of which 'Century' the title refers to. The implication seems to be that it is the 20th Century - a look at how the work of Einstein an Freud affected future thought. However, I found that more of the book was concerned with the history of their subjects, and that much more could have been written about their influence on later science.

The book is easy to read, and would be useful for someone wanting to find out more about the lives of these two scientists. However I found that reading it was more likely to suggest new questions than to answer them. For instance, Freud started off pursuing a standard scientific career, and strove to apply the scientific method to his work. On the other hand Einstein started off as an outsider and judged his theories on his personal ideas of what must be right rahter than experimental evidence. So how come Einstein's work is now at the centre of science, whilst Freud's is sometimes seen as being on the fringe. I would have liked more discussion of questions such as this in Panek's book.

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Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 1841152773
Salesrank: 9086248
Weight:0.84 lbs
Published: 2005 Fourth Estate Ltd
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Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 1841152773
Salesrank: 2365117
Weight:0.84 lbs
Published: 2005 Fourth Estate
Amazon price £15.99
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Hardcover
ISBN: 1841152773
Salesrank:
Weight:0.84 lbs
Published: Fourth Estate
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Product Description
From the acclaimed author of 'Seeing and Believing'. In clear and vivid prose, Richard Panek examines two of history's greatest thinkers, Einstein and Freud, to offer a fresh portrait of the extraordinary scientific developments of the 20th-century. At the dawn of the 20th-century there was a widespread assumption in scientific circles that the pursuit of knowledge was nearing its end and that all available evidence had been exhausted. By 1916, however, both Einstein and Freud had exploded this myth by leading exploration into the science of the Invisible and Unconscious, using scientific data that we cannot see. These men were more than just contemporaries -- their separate pursuits were in fact complementary. Freud's science of Psychoanalysis found its cosmological counterpart in the Astronomy of Invisible Light that Einstein pioneered. Together they questioned the inconsistencies of Newton's ordered cosmos to reveal a different reality, a natural order that was anything but ordered, a cosmos that was volatile and vast -- an organism alive in time. Einstein and Freud inspired a fundamental shift in the history of human thought, transforming forever our understanding of the world and our place within it. In accessible and stylish prose, Panek chronicles a scientific revolution that is still in progress today.