Friday, April 1, 2022

Review of The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta by Albert Einstein, Leopold Infeld

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Science
Intriguing Connections = What Makes Science A Science?


“Einstein thought that quantum mechanics was somehow an “incomplete” theory of reality, because it did not provide a strictly causal and deterministic description of nature and instead as founded on uncertainties and chance.” – Walter Isaacson, Foreword, Page xix

“Some of the riddles of nature have been solved although many of the solutions have proved temporary and superficial in the light of further research.” – Albert Einstein, and Leopold Infield, Chapter1: The Rise of the Mechanical View, Page 5

“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.  The raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” – Albert Einstein, and Leopold Infield, Chapter 2: The Decline of the Mechanical View, Page 92

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Elaborate Description


This book traverses the history of physics from the rise and fall of the mechanical view, to relativity, and the beginnings of quantum mechanics.  Einstein favored realism in science, which made Einstein antagonistic to quantum mechanics because it appeared incomplete, as it did not provide strict causal and deterministic descriptions but those of uncertainties and chance.  Throughout the book, are references on what beliefs about what physics and science should be and are.  Science depends on inquiring on problems, with the solutions being a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.  Science evolves by being challenged from different perspectives, and solutions are often temporary, awaiting further research that find its problems.  New theories arise when with serious and deep contradiction of previous views that could not be overcome.  New theories overcome as many possible problems of previous views, while trying to explain the ideas as simply as possible.  


The book is meant for a general audience, but it does not fulfill its purpose.  The ideas start simple, and progressively become more and more complicated.  For someone who does not have a background in many of the ideas, it can become too complicated too quickly.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•How does science evolve?
•What does Einstein believe is needed for physics views to become acceptable? 
•How and why did physics change its views?
•What was the mechanical perspective, and what problems did it have?
•What led to the general relativity theory?
•How does quantum mechanics work?
•What experiments were used to prove and disprove the ideas? 

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9780671201562
Pages to read:   315
Publication:     2007
1st Edition:      1938
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    2
Content          2
Overall           2