Cover: Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness, from Harvard University PressCover: Einstein 1905 in PAPERBACK

Einstein 1905

The Standard of Greatness

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Product Details


$30.00 • £24.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674021044

Publication Date: 04/30/2006

Academic Trade

192 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

7 halftones, 8 line illustrations


In Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness, John S. Rigden provides a lucid account of Einstein’s astonishing outburst of creativity, explaining its scientific context and impact, which include, in the case of the relativity theory, the reconstruction of both space and time and the equivalence of mass and energy.—Daniel J. Kevles, The Times Literary Supplement

A century ago, in 1905, Einstein proved that time, as it had been understood by scientist and layman alike, was a fiction. And this was scarcely his only achievement that year, which John S. Rigden skillfully chronicles, month by month, in Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness.—Jim Holt, The New Yorker

[A] valuable addition to the Einstein canon.—Werner Israel, Nature

Between March and September 1905, Einstein wrote five Annalen Physik papers that would greatly influence 20th-century physics… For each paper, Rigden discusses the background, underlying ideas, content, and organization before surveying its reception and impact. General readers who wish to understand the magnitude of what Einstein accomplished during his annus mirabilis will find this lucid, nonmathematical account ideal.Science

A marvelous book… John Rigden not only summarizes accessibly [Einstein’s] accomplishments of that year; he analyses the nature of scientific research… Einstein’s papers are not accessible to a nonexpert by and large. But for those who feel the urge to at least try to go where they’re not technically qualified with the accurate suspicion that it matters, this is the year for some physics, and John Rigden’s provocative work is a place to start.—Thomas Oliphant, The Boston Globe

[Rigden] gives an excellent overview of each of the 1905 papers.—Alan Cane, Financial Times

To mark the centenary of the publication of Albert Einstein’s first scientific papers, the year saw a flowering of books about the 20th century’s greatest thinker. The best of the bunch is John S. Rigden’s book Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness. Rigden provides an excellent no-frills overview of five papers that Einstein published within the space of six months, transforming our understanding of nature.—Clive Cookson, Financial Times

Rigden provides a fine account of the scientific importance of Einstein’s five papers.—P. D. Smith, The Guardian

A fine, slender introduction to Einstein’s mind and science for the lay reader is John Rigden’s Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness.—Leon Botstein, The New York Sun

Mr. Rigden is very good at evoking the vehement debates that took place over Einstein’s findings… The portrait of Einstein that emerges from Rigden’s account is as compelling as his theories.—Eric Ormsby, The New York Sun

Mr. Rigden’s book provides a clearly written account of these papers. It places each one in the context of the physics of the time, and explains the unique contribution Einstein made by his unerring vision for the key principles involved and his convincing solutions to the problems he tackled.—Jeffrey Marsh, The Washington Times

The year 2005 [is] the centenary of Einstein’s annus mirabilis, when he published the five papers that marked him as one of the greatest scientists of all time. Washington University professor Rigden sits readers down in front of his white board and explains what Einstein said in each of these papers, what was significant in them and how the scientific community reacted (not very well, in most cases—for a while)… Rigden writes with a rare felicity, free of jargon and with everyday metaphors that Einstein himself would no doubt have appreciated.Publishers Weekly

Awards & Accolades

  • A Financial Times Best Science Book of the Year
Murty Classical Library of India

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