Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program)

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9780393312768: Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program)

Winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics

Ever since Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity burst upon the world in 1915 some of the most brilliant minds of our century have sought to decipher the mysteries bequeathed by that theory, a legacy so unthinkable in some respects that even Einstein himself rejected them.

Which of these bizarre phenomena, if any, can really exist in our universe? Black holes, down which anything can fall but from which nothing can return; wormholes, short spacewarps connecting regions of the cosmos; singularities, where space and time are so violently warped that time ceases to exist and space becomes a kind of foam; gravitational waves, which carry symphonic accounts of collisions of black holes billions of years ago; and time machines, for traveling backward and forward in time.

Kip Thorne, along with fellow theorists Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, a cadre of Russians, and earlier scientists such as Oppenheimer, Wheeler and Chandrasekhar, has been in the thick of the quest to secure answers. In this masterfully written and brilliantly informed work of scientific history and explanation, Dr. Thorne, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at Caltech, leads his readers through an elegant, always human, tapestry of interlocking themes, coming finally to a uniquely informed answer to the great question: what principles control our universe and why do physicists think they know the things they think they know? Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time has been one of the greatest best-sellers in publishing history. Anyone who struggled with that book will find here a more slowly paced but equally mind-stretching experience, with the added fascination of a rich historical and human component.

Winner of the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science.

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About the Author:

Kip Thorne, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at Caltech, is the author of the bestselling books Black Holes and Time Warps and The Science of Interstellar. Thorne was an executive producer for the 2014 film Interstellar. He lives in Pasadena, California.

Stephen W. Hawking is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

From Kirkus Reviews:

In what seems an attempt to join the ranks of bestselling science writers like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, Thorne (Physics/Caltech) turns out a whopper covering everything from ``The Warping of Time and Space'' to ``Ripples of Curvature'' and ``Wormholes and Time Machines.'' Throughout, he remains resolutely chipper, chirpy, and personably anecdotal. The strange, folksy drawings here contribute to the effect of familiarity, which sometimes does its job and sometimes does not. It is undoubtedly useful to find yourself chatted through a potted history of 20th-century physics in so charming and lucid a manner: the problem, though, is to whom the volume is addressed. Hawking's book had plenty of theory, but it was short and elegantly elliptical, letting you think that you grasped its contents even if you didn't--a delusion that may lie at the heart of many a popular science book's success. Here, however, the reader has to wade through many, many pages of theory and diagrams--obvious to the expert but to difficult for the lay reader. Thorne in fact is strongest for the novice reader when dealing with the history of the physics community, which he presents entertainingly and clearly, allowing its peculiar personalities to emerge living and breathing--perhaps as much as a book of this kind can do within its audience's limiting parameters. Even so, in choosing a compact mini-encyclopedia of 20th- century physics, one could do far worse than this one, with its breadth of information even including exactly how it is that time does hook itself up to a wormhole. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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