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The Hunt for Vulcan

. . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe

The captivating, all-but-forgotten story of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and the search for a planet that never existed
For more than fifty years, the world's top scientists searched for the "missing" planet Vulcan, whose existence was mandated by Isaac Newton's theories of gravity. Countless hours were spent on the hunt for the elusive orb, and some of the era's most skilled astronomers even claimed to have found it.
There was just one problem: It was never there.
In The Hunt for Vulcan, Thomas Levenson follows the visionary scientists who inhabit the story of the phantom planet, starting with Isaac Newton, who in 1687 provided an explanation for all matter in motion throughout the universe, leading to Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, who almost two centuries later built on Newton's theories and discovered Neptune, becoming the most famous scientist in the world. Le Verrier attempted to surpass that triumph by predicting the existence of yet another planet in our solar system, Vulcan.
It took Albert Einstein to discern that the mystery of the missing planet was a problem not of measurements or math but of Newton's theory of gravity itself. Einstein's general theory of relativity proved that Vulcan did not and could not exist, and that the search for it had merely been a quirk of operating under the wrong set of assumptions about the universe. Levenson tells the previously untold tale of how the "discovery" of Vulcan in the nineteenth century set the stage for Einstein's monumental breakthrough, the greatest individual intellectual achievement of the twentieth century.
A dramatic human story of an epic quest, The Hunt for Vulcan offers insight into how science really advances (as opposed to the way we're taught about it in school) and how the best work of the greatest scientists reveals an artist's sensibility. Opening a new window onto our world, Levenson illuminates some of our most iconic ideas as he recounts one of the strangest episodes in the history of science.
Praise for The Hunt for Vulcan
"Delightful . . . a charming tale about an all-but-forgotten episode in science history." - The Wall Street Journal
"Engaging . . . At heart, this is a story about how science advances, one insight at a time. But the immediacy, almost romance, of Levenson's writing makes it almost novelistic." - The Washington Post
"Captures the drama of the tireless search for this celestial object." - Science
"A well-structured, fast-paced example of exemplary science writing." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A short, beautifully produced book that tells a cautionary tale . . . Levenson is a breezy writer who renders complex ideas in down-to-earth language." - The Boston Globe
"An inspiring tale about the quest for discovery." -Walter Isaacson
"Equal to the best science writing I've read anywhere, by any author. Beautifully composed, rich in historical context, deeply researched, it is, above all, great storytelling." -Alan Lightman, author of The Accidental Universe
"Levenson tells us where Vulcan came from, how it vanished, and why its spirit lurks today. Along the way, we learn more than a bit of just how science works-when it succeeds as well as when it fails." -Neil deGrasse Tyson
"Science writing at its best. This book is not just learned, passionate, and witty-it is profoundly wise." -Junot Díaz
From the Hardcover edition.
Rezension
'"Delightful . . . a charming tale about an all-but-forgotten episode in science history." - The Wall Street Journal "Engaging . . . At heart, this is a story about how science advances, one insight at a time. But the immediacy, almost romance, of [Thomas] Levenson's writing makes it almost novelistic." - The Washington Post
"Captures the drama of the tireless search for this celestial object." - Science "Levenson's narrative is a well-structured, fast-paced example of exemplary science writing. A scintillating popular account of the interplay between mathematical physics and astronomical observations." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)" The Hunt for Vulcan is a short, beautifully produced book that tells a cautionary tale. . . . Levenson is a breezy writer who renders complex ideas in down-to-earth language . . . and colorfully illustrates the limits of scientific theory as it faces new data and even more persuasive theories." - The Boston Globe
"Thomas Levenson wonderfully tells the story of Vulcan. . . . Looping through science history from Isaac Newton onwards, Levenson elegantly reveals the evolutionary nature of scientific thought, and the marvel of the revolution that Einstein wrought." - Nature "An essential read . . . a compelling story that successfully portrays how science deals with ambiguity . . . The Hunt for Vulcan succeeds spectacularly at displaying the intricate, confusing, and sometimes quirky way science progresses." - Ars Technica "This delightful and enlightening drama tells the story of the hunt for a planet that did not exist and how Einstein resolved the mystery with the most beautiful theory in the history of science. The Hunt for Vulcan is an inspiring tale about the quest for discovery and the challenges and joys of understanding our universe." -Walter Isaacson" The Hunt for Vulcan is equal to the best science writing I've read anywhere, by any author. Beautifully composed, rich in historical context, deeply researched, it is, above all, great storytelling. Levenson gives a true picture of the scientific enterprise, with all its good and bad guesses, wishful thinking, passion, human ego, and desire to know and understand this strange and magnificent cosmos we find ourselves in." -Alan Lightman, author of The Accidental Universe "The forgotten story of Vulcan could no longer remain untold. Tom Levenson tells us where it came from, how it vanished, and why its spirit lurks today. Along the way, we learn more than a bit of just how science works-when it succeeds as well as when it fails." -Neil deGrasse Tyson"Thomas Levenson's brilliance as a writer is in setting the evolution of scientific ideas into their appropriate historical contexts, allowing us to see their wider implications. In this engaging, informative book, laced with lovely anecdotes, Levenson elegantly teaches us about both the laws of physics and the less law-abiding ways in which physics advances occur." -Lisa Randall, professor of physics, Harvard University, and author of Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs " The Hunt for Vulcan is science writing at its best. As Levenson unravels the history, the drama, and, yes, the physics behind the now-forgotten Vulcan, he also shows how science actually advances in our world and, in the process, reveals how none of our endeavors-even our most empirical-are immune to our penchant for self-deception. This book is not just learned, passionate, and witty-it is profoundly wise." -Junot Díaz"Thomas Levenson tells the tale of Newton, Einstein, and the missing planet Vulcan with verve, showing how observations and calculations clashed in a battle that decided the fate of the universe." -Sean Carroll, author of The Particle at the End of the Universe
"Scorched and blackened by the fires of the Sun, Vulcan is the innermost planet that never was. Thomas Levenson illuminates the untold s
Portrait
Thomas Levenson ist Dokumentarfilmer, dessen Arbeit bereits mit dem Emmy und dem Peabody Award ausgezeichnet wurde. U.a. stammt von ihm eine zweistündige Fernsehbiografie über Albert Einstein.
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Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 256
Erscheinungsdatum 02.08.2016
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-8129-8830-7
Verlag Random House LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 203/131/17 mm
Gewicht 193
Verkaufsrang 6.825
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
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