Einstein's Clocks and Poincare's Maps: Empires of Time

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9780393326048: Einstein's Clocks and Poincare's Maps: Empires of Time

"More than a history of science; it is a tour de force in the genre."―New York Times Book Review

A dramatic new account of the parallel quests to harness time that culminated in the revolutionary science of relativity, Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps is "part history, part science, part adventure, part biography, part meditation on the meaning of modernity....In Galison's telling of science, the meters and wires and epoxy and solder come alive as characters, along with physicists, engineers, technicians and others....Galison has unearthed fascinating material" (New York Times).

Clocks and trains, telegraphs and colonial conquest: the challenges of the late nineteenth century were an indispensable real-world background to the enormous theoretical breakthrough of relativity. And two giants at the foundations of modern science were converging, step-by-step, on the answer: Albert Einstein, an young, obscure German physicist experimenting with measuring time using telegraph networks and with the coordination of clocks at train stations; and the renowned mathematician Henri Poincaré, president of the French Bureau of Longitude, mapping time coordinates across continents. Each found that to understand the newly global world, he had to determine whether there existed a pure time in which simultaneity was absolute or whether time was relative.

Esteemed historian of science Peter Galison has culled new information from rarely seen photographs, forgotten patents, and unexplored archives to tell the fascinating story of two scientists whose concrete, professional preoccupations engaged them in a silent race toward a theory that would conquer the empire of time. 40 b/w illustrations

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About the Author:

Peter Galison is Mallinckrodt Professor for the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Max Planck Prize, as well as the Pfizer Prize for the Best Book in the History of Science for Image and Logic.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* Many have taken it as proof of Einstein's transcendent genius that he published his epoch-making Theory of Relativity while employed as a clerk in the Bern patent office, a place usually judged more likely to extinguish scientific inspiration than to kindle it. But when Harvard historian Galison takes a close look at that patent office, he sees something quite different. He sees an institution flooded with patent applications for technologies to coordinate distant clocks, applications forcefully highlighting the problem of simultaneity that lies at the very heart of relativity. Perhaps for some few it will diminish Einstein's accomplishment to realize how much his circumstances helped to focus his thinking. But for most it will only clarify his intellectual feat. Galison helps readers to understand how Einstein--no reclusive hermit--both learned from and surpassed contemporary scientists, engineers, and philosophers struggling to redefine time in a world newly unified by railroads, telegraphs, and radio. And no contemporary more closely paralleled Einstein in his pioneering path than the gifted French mathematician and cartographer Henri Poincare. An admirer of Poincare's neglected brilliance, Galison shows how the French scholar independently unraveled most of the mysteries of relativity, even partially anticipating Einstein's key breakthrough in redefining "local time." Still, while Poincare tried to integrate his insights into the Newtonian framework, Einstein recognized that relativity demanded an entirely new conceptual structure. Few books have ever made Einstein's work more accessible--or more engrossing--for general readers. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A dramatic new account of the parallel quests to harness time that culminated in the revolutionary science of relativity, Einstein s Clocks, Poincare s Maps is part history, part science, part adventure, part biography, part meditation on the meaning of modernity.In Galison s telling of science, the meters and wires and epoxy and solder come alive as characters, along with physicists, engineers, technicians and others.Galison has unearthed fascinating material (New York Times). Clocks and trains, telegraphs and colonial conquest: the challenges of the late nineteenth century were an indispensable real-world background to the enormous theoretical breakthrough of relativity. And two giants at the foundations of modern science were converging, step-by-step, on the answer: Albert Einstein, an young, obscure German physicist experimenting with measuring time using telegraph networks and with the coordination of clocks at train stations; and the renowned mathematician Henri Poincare, president of the French Bureau of Longitude, mapping time coordinates across continents. Each found that to understand the newly global world, he had to determine whether there existed a pure time in which simultaneity was absolute or whether time was relative. Esteemed historian of science Peter Galison has culled new information from rarely seen photographs, forgotten patents, and unexplored archives to tell the fascinating story of two scientists whose concrete, professional preoccupations engaged them in a silent race toward a theory that would conquer the empire of time. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780393326048

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