The Great Equations

The Great Equations

Breakthroughs in Science From Pythagoras to Heisenberg

Book - 2008
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Philosopher and science historian Robert P. Crease tells the stories behind ten of the greatest equations in human history. Was Nobel laureate Richard Feynman really joking when he called Maxwell's electromagnetic equations the most significant event of the nineteenth century? How did Newton's law of gravitation influence young revolutionaries? Why has Euler's formula been called "God's equation," and why did a mysterious ecoterrorist make it his calling card? What role do betrayal, insanity, and suicide play in the second law of thermodynamics?The Great Equations tells the stories of how these equations were discovered, revealing the personal struggles of their ingenious originators. From "1 + 1 = 2" to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Crease locates these equations in the panoramic sweep of Western history, showing how they are as integral to their time and place of creation as are great works of art.
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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