Cover image for God's equation : Einstein, relativity, and the expanding universe
God's equation : Einstein, relativity, and the expanding universe
Aczel, Amir D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Four Walls Eight Windows, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 236 pages : 22 cm
Reading Level:
1270 Lexile.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library QB981 .A35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In a work of awesome scope, Amir Aczel investigates what powers the stars on their journey to the edge of the universe. Using Einstein and his theories to explain the latest developments in cosmology, Aczel outlines the links between relativity and cosmology via Einstein's "cosmological constant." In the author's view, Einstein served as God's mouthpiece, revealing the most fundamental truths about our larger environment, truths contemporary scientists are just now confirming. This book is the first to discuss certain letters of Einstein that put a new spin on his relationship with other scientists and on his early efforts to prove his revolutionary theories.

Author Notes

Amir D. Aczel was born in Haifa, Israel on November 6, 1950. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in decision sciences from the business school at the University of Oregon. He taught at several universities during his lifetime including the University of Alaska and Bentley College.

His first book, Complete Business Statistics, was published in 1989 and went through eight editions. His other books include How to Beat the I.R.S. at Its Own Game: Strategies to Avoid - and Fight - an Audit; Fermat's Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secret of an Ancient Mathematical Problem; The Mystery of the Aleph: Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity; The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention That Changed the World; Entanglement: The Greatest Mystery in Physics; and Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers. He died from cancer on November 26, 2015 at the age of 65.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Einstein blundered? So he thought. So too did his colleagues in theoretical physics, who for decades dismissed Einstein's attempt to introduce a "cosmological constant" into his formula for the dynamics of the universe as an unfortunate and uncharacteristic misstep. But genius will out. In one of the most exciting scientific detective stories ever told, Aczel chronicles the stunning reversals in the evolution of physics that are fast converting Einstein's embarrassing error into yet another proof of his elusive brilliance. With the same lightness of touch he displayed in Fermat's Last Theorem (1996), Aczel guides ordinary mortals through the odyssey that made Einstein the world's premier scientist while still a young man and that culminated in his audacious attempt to formulate a unified field theory to link all the fundamental forces in the universe. Even readers without exceptional mathematical sophistication will grasp why Einstein first conceived of a cosmological constant and then later repudiated it as bad mistake. But Aczel's greatest accomplishment lies in his deft weaving together of the seemingly disparate research projects in cosmology and quantum physics that have unexpectedly provided fresh evidence for the validity of Einstein's cosmological constant as the key to understanding the "strange energy" filling quantum space and driving our universe ever outward. A marvelous distillation of epoch-making science. --Bryce Christensen

Publisher's Weekly Review

For decades, scientists have debated whether the universe will eventually collapse upon itself, will expand until it reaches an optimal size and remain steady, or will expand forever. To most everyone's surprise, studies of particular huge supernovae are providing evidence that the last possibility may be right and that billions of years from now the universe will be an unimaginably immense void of burned-out stars. The explanation for this may lie in the "cosmological constant," a part of Einstein's field equation for general relativity. Though Einstein described the constant as the greatest blunder of his career, many scientists now think that it could correctly represent some kind of "funny energy" pushing the universe apart. Aczel (Fermat's Last Theorem; Probability 1) contends that Einstein's equation for the cosmological constant is our best approximation of what he calls "God's equation": the ultimate summary of how the universe works. Though Aczel's analysis of Einstein's work requires familiarity with advanced mathematics, that analysis makes up only a minor portion of his book, and most readers will appreciate the author's inclusion of the great physicist's letters to astronomer Erwin Freundlich. Translated here for the first time, they give a glimpse of Einstein's ambition and of his occasional indifference toward collaborators who were no longer useful to him. Aczel's writing is marred by his proclivity to make hyperbolic statements ("Einstein became one of the greatest celebritiesÄpossibly the greatestÄthe world has ever known"), and some of his historical observations are na‹ve. Those fascinated by Einstein will find much of interest here, but general readers hungry for information about recent developments in cosmology may want to consult more accessible authors, such as John Gribbin (The Case of the Missing Neutrinos). Figures not seen by PW. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this well-written book, Aczel (Fermat's Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secret of an Ancient Mathematical Problem) attempts to explain in lay terms the meaning and significance of Einstein's theory of relativity; to a large extent, he succeeds. He shows us how Einstein developed and modified the theory and how he interacted with others working in mathematics, physics, and astronomy. Aczel explains that Einstein proposed a mathematically elegant equation, based on physical, philosophical, and aesthetic considerations, whose solutions (if found) would describe the large-scale behavior of the universe. He then modified the equation by adding a cosmological constant, since his first solutions indicated that the universe must be expanding, and no physical evidence to that effect existed at the time. When it was later shown that the universe was indeed expanding, he removed the constant, calling it a mistake. Yet new evidence seems to show that even when he thought he was wrong, Einstein may have been rightÄthe cosmological constant may be essential to our understanding of the universe. For public libraries.ÄHarold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Aczel (Bentley College) offers God's Equation as an interesting mix of history and science. The equation referred to in the title is the fundamental equation of general relativity, which describes, among other things, black holes and the expansion of the universe. The book is strongest in its treatment of Einstein's life during the years he worked on general relativity, an account interesting and enjoyable to read. Overall, the book would have benefited from a strong editor. There is some needless repetition, and some important basic concepts such as the metric tensor are not explained well. The treatment of contemporary research is at times perfunctory, and of contemporary figures formulaic and credulous, as if biographical sketches were hastily prepared from brief interviews. It is probably too early to assess the impact of the recent work discussed in the preface and the final chapter, which seems to indicate that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The book can be recommended as a supplementary work to anyone interested in Einstein or cosmology, but not as an introduction to either. General readers; undergraduates through faculty. M. C. Ogilvie; Washington University

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