Annus Mirabilis: 1905, Albert Einstein,and the Theory of Relativity

John and Mary Gribbin have written a book with a somewhat broader scope than Rigden's on the same topic. The first 138 pages of constitute a brief biography in three chapters: The First Twenty-Five Years, The Annus Mirabilis, and The Last Fifty Years. For someone who knows nothing about Einstein's life this is not a bad introduction, but I think that it is a subject worthy of far more than three chapters. Fortunately, there are numerous excellent Einstein biographies, especially those by Ronald Clark's "Einstein: The Life and Times", Benesh Hoffmann's "Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel", and "Einstein: A Life" by Denis Brian [who also has a new book, "The Unexpected Einstein", that I haven't read.] Einstein's life is further described in a DVD that is enclosed with "Annus Mirabilis". This is the Arts and Entertainment Channel biography (that sells separately for almost as much as this whole package). It is quite well-done, but glosses and simplifies this very complex person. The remaining 171 pages of "Annus Mirabilis" is an appendix of thirty two(!) chapters in which the authors try to develop the ideas of special and general relativity, beginning with Cartesian coordinate systems and ending with cosmology. I find it difficult to believe that many naive readers would work through this, but John Gribbin is known for the skill with which he writes about complex science. His "In Search of Schroedinger's Cat" is a classic, but I think the lengthy appendices will be of use mainly to those who already know quite a bit about about relativity.

Pick Attribution: 

John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin

Publication Date: 
Saturday, January 1, 2005