EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE by Walter Isaacson

This is the definitive biography of Albert Einstein.  At least, that is what the blurb tells us, and after having read it, I can say it sure is a dandy, definitive or no.

How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson’s biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.

Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk—a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn’t get a teaching job or a doctorate—became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom, and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.

These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.

Issacson obviously admires Einstein tremendously, and the book is filled with all kinds of trivia about his personal life, in which he emerges as the quintessential absent minded profressor, as well as an emotionally distant family man.  He was married twice, and Issaacson seems to dance around the issue of his many affairs.  He was something of a womanizer,  and was married twice.

The book is also filled with lots and lots of explanations of his theories and the quantum concepts, which I really loved as much as the info on his personal life.  He really did say God doesn’t play dice!  Who knew.  I thought that was just one of those internet memes somebody made up.

What I especially found fascinating was the fact that he developed his theories from visualization in his head … thought experiments, …. rather than from mathematical equations.  In fact, he disliked mathematics, and often acquired coworkers to do the math stuff for him.

Great book, extremely readable, wonderful especially considering the esoteric target of Einstein’s genius.

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