The Hunt for Vulcan

Author: Thomas Levenson
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 9780812988291
Release Date: 2015-11-03
Genre: Science

The captivating, all-but-forgotten story of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and the search for a planet that never existed For more than fifty years, the world’s top scientists searched for the “missing” planet Vulcan, whose existence was mandated by Isaac Newton’s theories of gravity. Countless hours were spent on the hunt for the elusive orb, and some of the era’s most skilled astronomers even claimed to have found it. There was just one problem: It was never there. In The Hunt for Vulcan, Thomas Levenson follows the visionary scientists who inhabit the story of the phantom planet, starting with Isaac Newton, who in 1687 provided an explanation for all matter in motion throughout the universe, leading to Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, who almost two centuries later built on Newton’s theories and discovered Neptune, becoming the most famous scientist in the world. Le Verrier attempted to surpass that triumph by predicting the existence of yet another planet in our solar system, Vulcan. It took Albert Einstein to discern that the mystery of the missing planet was a problem not of measurements or math but of Newton’s theory of gravity itself. Einstein’s general theory of relativity proved that Vulcan did not and could not exist, and that the search for it had merely been a quirk of operating under the wrong set of assumptions about the universe. Levenson tells the previously untold tale of how the “discovery” of Vulcan in the nineteenth century set the stage for Einstein’s monumental breakthrough, the greatest individual intellectual achievement of the twentieth century. A dramatic human story of an epic quest, The Hunt for Vulcan offers insight into how science really advances (as opposed to the way we’re taught about it in school) and how the best work of the greatest scientists reveals an artist’s sensibility. Opening a new window onto our world, Levenson illuminates some of our most iconic ideas as he recounts one of the strangest episodes in the history of science. Praise for The Hunt for Vulcan “Delightful . . . a charming tale about an all-but-forgotten episode in science history.”—The Wall Street Journal “Engaging . . . At heart, this is a story about how science advances, one insight at a time. But the immediacy, almost romance, of Levenson’s writing makes it almost novelistic.”—The Washington Post “A well-structured, fast-paced example of exemplary science writing.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Formative Years of Relativity

Author: Hanoch Gutfreund
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691174631
Release Date: 2017-09-26
Genre: Science

First published in 1922 and based on lectures delivered in May 1921, Albert Einstein’s The Meaning of Relativity offered an overview and explanation of the then new and controversial theory of relativity. The work would go on to become a monumental classic, printed in numerous editions and translations worldwide. Now, The Formative Years of Relativity introduces Einstein’s masterpiece to new audiences. This beautiful volume contains Einstein’s insightful text, accompanied by important historical materials and commentary looking at the origins and development of general relativity. Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn provide fresh, original perspectives, placing Einstein’s achievements into a broader context for all readers. In this book, Gutfreund and Renn tell the rich story behind the early reception, spread, and consequences of Einstein’s ideas during the formative years of general relativity in the late 1910s and 1920s. They show that relativity’s meaning changed radically throughout the nascent years of its development, and they describe in detail the transformation of Einstein’s work from the esoteric pursuit of one individual communicating with a handful of colleagues into the preoccupation of a growing community of physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, and philosophers. This handsome edition quotes extensively from Einstein’s correspondence and reproduces historical documents such as newspaper articles and letters. Inserts are featured in the main text giving concise explanations of basic concepts, and short biographical notes and photographs of some of Einstein’s contemporaries are included. The first-ever English translations of two of Einstein’s popular Princeton lectures are featured at the book’s end.

Prosperity for All

Author: Roger E.A. Farmer
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780190621445
Release Date: 2016-09-09
Genre: Business & Economics

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, economists around the world have advanced theories to explain the persistence of high unemployment and low growth rates. According to Roger E. A. Farmer, these theories can be divided into two leading schools of thought: the ideas of pre-Keynesian scholars who blame the recession on bad economic policy, and the suggestions of "New Keynesian" scholars who propose standard modifications to select assumptions of Keynes' General Theory. But Farmer eschews both these schools of thought, arguing instead that in order to mitigate current financial crises-and prevent future ones-macroeconomic theory must become attuned to present-day conditions. Governments need to intervene in asset markets in a manner similar to the recent behavior of central banks, and principal actors in the international economy need to pursue financial stability. The primary mechanism for securing such stability would be for sovereign nations to create sovereign wealth funds backed by the present value of future tax revenues. These funds would function along the lines in which exchange-traded funds currently operate, and in time, they would become the backbone for stabilizing financial markets. Written in clear, accessible language by a prominent macroeconomic theorist, Prosperity for All proposes a paradigm shift and policy changes that could successfully raise employment rates, keep inflation at bay, and stimulate growth.