I have been waiting to write about this biography by Walter Isaacson since I bought it. I had always been fascinated by Einstein and physics in general, but it wasn’t until recently, due to some personal changes, that I began to look into his life, his theories, and how both are pertinent and applicable to today’s technology. Growing up as a highly imaginative and intelligent child, I had a difficult time understanding and explaining my feelings and thoughts to people. This was evident because I would write my feelings down carefully instead of expressing them verbally on the fly. Growing up is hard for anyone so it is reassuring to read that someone who is so venerated went through similar experiences.
Few books touch your soul and leave an imprint in your life to an extent that you not only learn about the book’s subject but your life and your purpose. This book certainly fit the bill. The last time I felt so reflective while reading a book was when I read Anderson Cooper’s memoir, “Anderson Cooper: Dispatches from Edge of the World” (See HERE). Cooper quite brilliantly wove a life story drawing similarities between the tragedies in his personal life and the suffering he observed when he visited war-torn and disaster-stricken areas such as Iraq and Indonesia. The heartfelt memoir was highly effective in teaching us what influenced him as a person and his journalistic style. But, I digress. Today, our focus is the Walter Isaacson’s New York Bestseller (See HERE).
Walter Isaacson mainly used Einstein’s personal letters to his family, colleagues, and friends as the basis for his research. The result produced is an insightful read into one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. It was fun to learn that Einstein was a rebellious young man who rubbed a lot of people, including his professors the wrong way on his way to fame. I was particularly fascinated to learn that he was not a dyslexic as a child as the popular notion suggests, which probably gives a wrong impression of the father of theoretical physics. According to Walter Isaacson, he was quite smart and it was his brilliance that got him in trouble with his teachers.
Fast forward to his university years, we learn about his difficulties there. His signature rebellious nature was so evident in stories about him not showing up to classes and his immaturity was reflected in his tensions with his professors. According to Walter Isaacson, most of his professors couldn’t stand him. Judging by these rather annoying experiences they hardly seem telling of the remarkable man we know and love. Other personal troubles he faced were his struggles to find jobs, his family’s businesses going bankrupt numerous times, and he marrying someone who his family didn’t approve.
What Walter Isaacson does brilliantly is shed light on Einstein’s personal journey and his professional growth in the academic arena which eventually lead to the “Miracle Year” and followed post that year. He explains Einstein’s experiences, thinking, and genius in words a common man understands and ends up with a fascinating read into the mind of a genius.
What I particularly loved about this book was how it made me love theoretical and astrophysics. My interest in these areas was partially due to my connection with Einstein’s imaginative thought experiments. As a person with no formal training in physics (besides a class in high school), I was keen on believing that a wild imagination can be honed down to explain things in the physical realm. Why? I have always been a spiritual person. Unlike Einstein, I respect the role of religion in a person’s life and in sciences. Furthermore, my belief that physical laws are and governed by one unifying power or force may not be agreeable to physicists today, but hold some sort of structure while we figure out the gaps in modern-day theories.
During this read I came up with some theories of my own that I would love comments on. These theories are based on my current knowledge of the laws and physics of the universe I have researched since my school days. Here they are:
a) Sun is a magnet like the rest of the planets. All heavenly bodies are magnets of some sort. Sun is actually a small, highly packed (or dense) solid with layers of liquefied gases expanding its size.
b) Each object in the universe revolves around something. We revolve around the giant black hole in the center of the Milky Way. What if comets revolve around something (that’s why we see them come back)?
c) Are we hanging of something in space? Why don’t we sink?
d) An atom is round; most of the objects in the universe are round. Can the universe be round?
e) If the mass of the earth is round and curved causing the space to curve, does a bullet shot from a gun travel in a straight line or at a curvature too? Some intelligent people will claim that Earth is flat, I will look into that.
f) Are black holes birthplace of galaxies and their shapes and movements? (through laws of gravity and magnetism?)
g) What is an electric or charged current? Waves of energy, gravity or both as in magnetism?
h) It is said that each entity in the universe is connected from a distance to other entities due to gravity. But what if gravity was described in terms of magnetism? Can magnetism impact galaxies? How? Each heavenly body is magnetized so depending on how many bodies in a galaxy are attracting bodies from another galaxy causing the galaxies to merge or in some cases move away from each other (maybe the latter ones are getting attracted to another galaxy?).
i) Magnetism is the strongest force in the universe. Gravity is magnetism.
j) Is magnetism between people different from magnetism in heavenly bodies? Everything vibrating is magnetism? Energy? God?
Spring Experiment: If you apply force to a spring, why does it spring back? What is that force? Is this how craters are made on planets? How does magnetism play a role in this phenomenon?
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this book. It’s a long one, but an easy and delightfully written piece. Happy Reading!