The Great Equations

The Great Equations

Breakthroughs in Science From Pythagoras to Heisenberg

Book - 2008
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While we may be familiar with some of science's greatest equations, we may not know that each and every equation emerged not in "Eureka!" moments but in years of cultural developments and scientific knowledge. With vignettes full of humor, drama, and eccentricity, philosopher and science historian Robert P. Crease shares the stories behind ten of history's greatest equations, from the "first equation," 1 + 1 = 2, which promises a rational, well-ordered world, to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which reveals the limitations of human knowledge. For every equation, Crease provides a brief account of who discovered it, what dissatisfactions lay behind its discovery, and what the equation says about the nature of our world.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2008
Characteristics: 315 p. : ill. ; 22 cm
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393062045 (hardcover)
Call Number: 509 CREASE


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Jan 15, 2018

This is a very stimulating discussion of the fascinating people and often dramatic circumstances that led to this small set of significant equations/results of math and physics, and the consequences for society (or at least for the scientific/mathematics communities). The stories behind many of these results shed welcome light on the messy human side of the scientific process. While the examples were not specifically selected to highlight the importance of the scientific enterprise to our future well-being, hopefully some of that aspect did come through. In any case I highly recommend this book.

Aug 22, 2017

This is a fascinating exploration of the history and development of famous equations and the scientists and mathematicians who came up with them. The book focuses on the knowledge the equations give us, on the process of discovery the inventors took to arrive at their solutions and on the way our understanding of the world was changed. Little to no attempt is made to work through the calculations; thus, the book is readable and enjoyable by anyone with an inquiring mind.


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