There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact… Mark Twain


Einstein’s mistakes : the human failings of genius New York: W.W. Norton & Company, c 2008      Hans C. Ohanian Science  History, Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xix, 394 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 339-373) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Fresh insights into aspects of Einstein we don’t usually consider: his mistakes and the role they played in the discovery of his theories.

Although Einstein was advertised as the greatest genius of the twentieth century but many of his so-called discoveries were blighted by mistakes, ranging from serious misconceptions in physics to blatant errors in mathematics. For instance, Einstein’s first theoretical proof of the famous formula E = mc2 was incomplete and only approximately valid; he struggled with this problem for many years, but he never found a complete proof (better mathematicians constructed more clever answers).

In this provocative forensic biography, Hans C. Ohanian dissects these mistakes and places them in the context of Einstein’s turbulent life and times. Einstein was often navigating in a fog of irrational and mystical inspirations, but his profound intuition about physics permitted him to reach his goal despite — and sometimes because of — the mistakes he made along the way.

Without a shred of evidence Ohanian credits Einstein’s uncanny ability to use his mistakes subconsciously as stepping stones toward his revolutionary theories assuming that to be one more hallmark of his genius. An amusing piece of hagiography made all the moreso by the author’s ignorant bliss the book is in reality a cautionary tale for those who would elevate Galileo, Darwin and their brothers in theorizing to an empty Pantheon.

 

The Sun and the moon : the remarkable true account of hoaxers, showmen, dueling journalists, and lunar man-bats in nineteenth-century New York New York : Basic Books, c 2008 Matthew Goodman Fraud in science  New York (State)  New York  History  19th century Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. ix, 350 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 327-334) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On August 26, 1835, a fledgling newspaper called the Sun brought to New York the first accounts of remarkable lunar discoveries. A series of six articles reported the existence of life on the moon—including unicorns, beavers that walked on their hind legs, and four-foot-tall flying man-bats. In a matter of weeks it was the most broadly circulated newspaper story of the era, and the Sun, a working-class upstart, became the most widely read paper in the world. An exhilarating narrative history of a divided city on the cusp of greatness, and tale of a crew of writers, editors, and charlatans who stumbled on a new kind of journalism, The Sun and the Moon tells the surprisingly true story of the penny papers that made America a nation of newspaper readers.

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