Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks
Generations have grown up knowing that the equation E=mc2 changed the shape of our world, but never understanding what it actually means, why it was so significant, and how it informs our daily lives today--governing, as it does, everything from the atomic bomb to a television's cathode ray tube to the carbon dating of prehistoric paintings. In this book, David Bodanis writes the "biography" of one of the greatest scientific discoveries in history--that the realms of energy and matter are inescapably linked--and, through his skill as a writer and teacher, he turns a seemingly impenetrable theory into a dramatic human achievement and an uncommonly good story.
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing an imprint of Bloomsbury USA on May 26, 2009
ISBN: 9780802718211
List price: $11.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Clear rating

This book is not only about the equation. It is also about how to apply it in reality. And how that has been done. Interesting and well written. Not least the part describing the Norwegians’ struggle during the blow-up of the factory producing deuterium during World War II.---Denna bok handlar inte bara om ekvationen. Den handlar också om hur man kan applicera den i verkligheten. Och hur det har gjorts. Intressant och välskrivet. Inte minst avdelningen som beskriver norrmännens vedermödor under sprängningen av fabriken som tillverkade tungt vatten under andra världskriget.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Quick Version: This book is a well laid out explanation of each part of the equation, its history, and its role in our universe.Long Version:The genesis of David Bodanis’ book was an interview he read in which actress Cameron Diaz expressed the desire-serious or in jest-to know what E=mc² really meant. Bodanis realized that the truth is that very few people have even a rudimentary knowledge of the usefulness of the world’s most famous equation; this book is his attempt to rectify that.The format chosen is an interesting one. Those who are true novices to physics-or lack interest in pursuing the equation beyond the basics-can read the front half of the book and walk away far more knowledgeable than they were when they picked it up. After a brief introduction to the time and place in which Einstein generated the paper which introduce the theory to the scientific world, Bodanis goes on to break down the equation and discuss each of its parts separately. What do they mean, and how do they interact with each other? The reader is then led on a quick trip through history with regards to how the scientific community used the theory-the race to be the first to build “The Bomb” during World War II. Finally, the author discusses the theory in our universe. Those not interested in a brain drain of a read would still likely read the Epilogue, which discusses what else Einstein did, and the interesting appendix, which gives closure regarding the other key participants.Of particular interest with regards to the structure of the book are the notes. If you would like to know more details (and are not afraid of either the odd equation or in depth descriptions), Bodanis suggests that you read the notes, where he has taken things a bit further. It is here that I have a bone to pick. The format that was chosen was that of endnotes, as opposed to footnotes. When endnotes are used, there is absolutely no indication within the text that there is a back of the book furtherance of the topic-two members of our book club did not even realize they were there and thus missed the opportunity to add to their reading experience. For those readers that do choose to read the endnotes concurrent with the front half of the book, you are left constantly flipping between the text and the notes to see if you have reached the next note (they are listed by page number). This is extremely disruptive to the flow of a book which requires some level of concentration to read and annoyed me to no end. Footnotes within the text would have been grand. As a side note, a member of our group tried to read the e-reader version. Footnotes would have enabled her to flip from text to notes with ease. As it was, she quickly gave up on trying to maneuver between the two.The final section, a guide to further reading, is one of the finest source guides I have ever seen. Books are divided into categories and are each given a paragraph of explanation designed to help the reader ascertain if they are a good fit for their reading list.Bodanis tops off his two leveled read with one final feat-he has a website to which he directs the serious student for further, more in depth, study. Whether you are interested in a basic explanation of a complicated theory, have a fascination with physics and would like to know more, or would like to go beyond your high school physics knowledge, this book is likely to fit your need.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I've read this book several years ago, so I will not provide a detailed review of this particular book. This is first book by David Bodanis that I read. I have immensely enjoyed all of the David Bodanis books that I have read. I am a working scientist, and I believe that Mr. Bodanis does an excellent job of writing popular science. In this particular book I thought his approach on showing the antecedents of aspects of this equation was excellent, and I learned quite a bit. His books always provide me with ideas or concepts that I will study in more detail.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book explained to me what no teacher ever did about relativity etc and why it is so important in modern life.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Excellent. The first chapters actually pertain to the equation components E, "equals sign", m, C and yes, "squared". The remainder is comprised of the history of relativity and atomic theory, with plenty of real lives drama among the various scientists (Einstein's life comprises only s small portion of this). The description of the Hiroshima bomb and the eventual demise of the sun, are awe-inspiring. I still don't know what the darn equation means but it was a heck of an entertaining book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I don't usually enjoy science books which are focused more on the biographies of the scientists than on the science itself, but perhaps because Bodanis is a historian, he carries of this mix of biography and science very well. A strong secondary theme is the waste of scientific talent caused by the sexism that has historically held back female scientists, several of whom are included in this tale.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
An easy to understand guide to Einstein's famous equation. Starting with Einstein, and his discovery, the book goes onto explain the history of the terms of the equation, looking how the ideas and terms have developed over the centuries.Bodanis then examines the development of the atomic bomb and how E=mc2 is at the heart of the process. An excellent well written book. Certainly worth a read.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This one cracks me up! It's a biography of an EQUATION, but the bulk of the story is apparently about the scandalous (and/or not so scandalous) lives of the scientists involved.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm no Einstein, but I do know a good book when I read one, and this one qualifies. Bodanis uses the famous equation to share biographical sketches of fascinating scientists working toward the discovery and application of the 20th century's great scientific breakthrough. With any popular science writing success can be measured by how well the author can take the obscure and esoteric come alive and show science to be what it ultimately is, a compelling human story. Without question the author succeeds.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I love biographies, but I wasn't sure what to think about the biography of a formula. As I read the book, I began to understand why they gave the book this title. Many people contributed to this formula over many years. One of the best parts was the large amount of content focusing on dispelling misunderstandings and giving credit to some of the lesser known contributors.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I have always had an interest in the theories of relativity and the life of Einstein; I remember enjoying Clark's biography of Einstein many years ago, and at one stage, in my twenties, I read several books that gave layman's explanations of the meaning and impact of Einstein's theories.Bodnis has taken a different, and interesting approach. He provides, as he says, a biography of this most famous equation, by going back to describe the early practitioners and discoveries of science and physics that Einstein built upon to come to his startling insight that energy and matter are interchangeable and that the conversion of even a tiny bit of matter leads to an enormous output of energy given that the coefficient is the speed of light, squared. The story also describes the race between the Germans and the Allies to build the first atomic bomb, and the critical role played by the destruction by commandos of heavy water shipments out of Norway.I learned a few interesting things. For instance, why is the speed of light designated a "c"? Because "c" is from the Latin "celeritas" which means swiftness. The speed is 670 million mph. And why does it have to be squared? Because the geometry of our world often produces squared numbers. For instance, when you move twice as close to a reading lamp, the light doesn't get twice as strong, its intensity increases four times. Almost anything that steadily accumulates will turn out to grow in terms of simple squared numbers. Thus, if you accelerate on a road from 20 to 80mph, your speed has gone up four times, but your accumulated energy will have increased by the square of four, i.e 16 times and that's how much longer your skid will be. The square of the speed of light is 448,900,000,000,000,000...small wonder that converting even a tiny bit of matter will create an incredible release of energy. In fact, a major contributor to the discovery of the meaning mv2 was Emile du Chatlet who lived in the 1700s, was a lover of Voltaire, and an exceptionally bright and intelligent woman in a time when women were expected to be neither. She was an active lover, with many partners, and she died in childbirth at the age of 40. Sad to read that she fully expected to die, given the abysmal record of women surviving childbirth especially those of her age. She was also one of a number of women who made tremendous contributions, either in providing building blocks for Einstein's work, or in proving it afterwards, who were thwarted, discriminated against, and given no due for their work. Another example was Lisa Meitner whose work was practically stolen from her by a former colleague and someone she thought was a friend and who won the Nobel for physics for a lot of the work that Meitner did. And Ceclia Payne who fought against considerable adversity to prove that she was right in determining that the sun is primarily composed of hydrogen, not iron. A distressing litany. I also learned that Heisenberg was a not very sympathetic character: more than willing to serve the Nazis in the race for the bomb, and with no compunction about using the products of slave-labour to do so. There is also a milisecond my milisecond description of what was happening in the bomb that drifted down in the skies above Hiroshima before it unleashed its awful power.An interesting book and well worth reading.(Feb/01)read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is an exciting book to read. Very gripping through the middle, especially the part where America raced Germany for being first to make an atomic bomb. I find the idea of the book very smart. On one hand it's an account of Albert Einstein, on the other it's the impact of one of his most important realizations on the rest of mankind.The part about what each of E, =, m, c, 2 means is a bit excessive I think, and the stuff that comes after Hiroshima drags on a bit, but I had a great time reading it nonetheless. It took only two days to finish.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

This book is not only about the equation. It is also about how to apply it in reality. And how that has been done. Interesting and well written. Not least the part describing the Norwegians’ struggle during the blow-up of the factory producing deuterium during World War II.---Denna bok handlar inte bara om ekvationen. Den handlar också om hur man kan applicera den i verkligheten. Och hur det har gjorts. Intressant och välskrivet. Inte minst avdelningen som beskriver norrmännens vedermödor under sprängningen av fabriken som tillverkade tungt vatten under andra världskriget.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Quick Version: This book is a well laid out explanation of each part of the equation, its history, and its role in our universe.Long Version:The genesis of David Bodanis’ book was an interview he read in which actress Cameron Diaz expressed the desire-serious or in jest-to know what E=mc² really meant. Bodanis realized that the truth is that very few people have even a rudimentary knowledge of the usefulness of the world’s most famous equation; this book is his attempt to rectify that.The format chosen is an interesting one. Those who are true novices to physics-or lack interest in pursuing the equation beyond the basics-can read the front half of the book and walk away far more knowledgeable than they were when they picked it up. After a brief introduction to the time and place in which Einstein generated the paper which introduce the theory to the scientific world, Bodanis goes on to break down the equation and discuss each of its parts separately. What do they mean, and how do they interact with each other? The reader is then led on a quick trip through history with regards to how the scientific community used the theory-the race to be the first to build “The Bomb” during World War II. Finally, the author discusses the theory in our universe. Those not interested in a brain drain of a read would still likely read the Epilogue, which discusses what else Einstein did, and the interesting appendix, which gives closure regarding the other key participants.Of particular interest with regards to the structure of the book are the notes. If you would like to know more details (and are not afraid of either the odd equation or in depth descriptions), Bodanis suggests that you read the notes, where he has taken things a bit further. It is here that I have a bone to pick. The format that was chosen was that of endnotes, as opposed to footnotes. When endnotes are used, there is absolutely no indication within the text that there is a back of the book furtherance of the topic-two members of our book club did not even realize they were there and thus missed the opportunity to add to their reading experience. For those readers that do choose to read the endnotes concurrent with the front half of the book, you are left constantly flipping between the text and the notes to see if you have reached the next note (they are listed by page number). This is extremely disruptive to the flow of a book which requires some level of concentration to read and annoyed me to no end. Footnotes within the text would have been grand. As a side note, a member of our group tried to read the e-reader version. Footnotes would have enabled her to flip from text to notes with ease. As it was, she quickly gave up on trying to maneuver between the two.The final section, a guide to further reading, is one of the finest source guides I have ever seen. Books are divided into categories and are each given a paragraph of explanation designed to help the reader ascertain if they are a good fit for their reading list.Bodanis tops off his two leveled read with one final feat-he has a website to which he directs the serious student for further, more in depth, study. Whether you are interested in a basic explanation of a complicated theory, have a fascination with physics and would like to know more, or would like to go beyond your high school physics knowledge, this book is likely to fit your need.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I've read this book several years ago, so I will not provide a detailed review of this particular book. This is first book by David Bodanis that I read. I have immensely enjoyed all of the David Bodanis books that I have read. I am a working scientist, and I believe that Mr. Bodanis does an excellent job of writing popular science. In this particular book I thought his approach on showing the antecedents of aspects of this equation was excellent, and I learned quite a bit. His books always provide me with ideas or concepts that I will study in more detail.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book explained to me what no teacher ever did about relativity etc and why it is so important in modern life.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Excellent. The first chapters actually pertain to the equation components E, "equals sign", m, C and yes, "squared". The remainder is comprised of the history of relativity and atomic theory, with plenty of real lives drama among the various scientists (Einstein's life comprises only s small portion of this). The description of the Hiroshima bomb and the eventual demise of the sun, are awe-inspiring. I still don't know what the darn equation means but it was a heck of an entertaining book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I don't usually enjoy science books which are focused more on the biographies of the scientists than on the science itself, but perhaps because Bodanis is a historian, he carries of this mix of biography and science very well. A strong secondary theme is the waste of scientific talent caused by the sexism that has historically held back female scientists, several of whom are included in this tale.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
An easy to understand guide to Einstein's famous equation. Starting with Einstein, and his discovery, the book goes onto explain the history of the terms of the equation, looking how the ideas and terms have developed over the centuries.Bodanis then examines the development of the atomic bomb and how E=mc2 is at the heart of the process. An excellent well written book. Certainly worth a read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This one cracks me up! It's a biography of an EQUATION, but the bulk of the story is apparently about the scandalous (and/or not so scandalous) lives of the scientists involved.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I'm no Einstein, but I do know a good book when I read one, and this one qualifies. Bodanis uses the famous equation to share biographical sketches of fascinating scientists working toward the discovery and application of the 20th century's great scientific breakthrough. With any popular science writing success can be measured by how well the author can take the obscure and esoteric come alive and show science to be what it ultimately is, a compelling human story. Without question the author succeeds.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I love biographies, but I wasn't sure what to think about the biography of a formula. As I read the book, I began to understand why they gave the book this title. Many people contributed to this formula over many years. One of the best parts was the large amount of content focusing on dispelling misunderstandings and giving credit to some of the lesser known contributors.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I have always had an interest in the theories of relativity and the life of Einstein; I remember enjoying Clark's biography of Einstein many years ago, and at one stage, in my twenties, I read several books that gave layman's explanations of the meaning and impact of Einstein's theories.Bodnis has taken a different, and interesting approach. He provides, as he says, a biography of this most famous equation, by going back to describe the early practitioners and discoveries of science and physics that Einstein built upon to come to his startling insight that energy and matter are interchangeable and that the conversion of even a tiny bit of matter leads to an enormous output of energy given that the coefficient is the speed of light, squared. The story also describes the race between the Germans and the Allies to build the first atomic bomb, and the critical role played by the destruction by commandos of heavy water shipments out of Norway.I learned a few interesting things. For instance, why is the speed of light designated a "c"? Because "c" is from the Latin "celeritas" which means swiftness. The speed is 670 million mph. And why does it have to be squared? Because the geometry of our world often produces squared numbers. For instance, when you move twice as close to a reading lamp, the light doesn't get twice as strong, its intensity increases four times. Almost anything that steadily accumulates will turn out to grow in terms of simple squared numbers. Thus, if you accelerate on a road from 20 to 80mph, your speed has gone up four times, but your accumulated energy will have increased by the square of four, i.e 16 times and that's how much longer your skid will be. The square of the speed of light is 448,900,000,000,000,000...small wonder that converting even a tiny bit of matter will create an incredible release of energy. In fact, a major contributor to the discovery of the meaning mv2 was Emile du Chatlet who lived in the 1700s, was a lover of Voltaire, and an exceptionally bright and intelligent woman in a time when women were expected to be neither. She was an active lover, with many partners, and she died in childbirth at the age of 40. Sad to read that she fully expected to die, given the abysmal record of women surviving childbirth especially those of her age. She was also one of a number of women who made tremendous contributions, either in providing building blocks for Einstein's work, or in proving it afterwards, who were thwarted, discriminated against, and given no due for their work. Another example was Lisa Meitner whose work was practically stolen from her by a former colleague and someone she thought was a friend and who won the Nobel for physics for a lot of the work that Meitner did. And Ceclia Payne who fought against considerable adversity to prove that she was right in determining that the sun is primarily composed of hydrogen, not iron. A distressing litany. I also learned that Heisenberg was a not very sympathetic character: more than willing to serve the Nazis in the race for the bomb, and with no compunction about using the products of slave-labour to do so. There is also a milisecond my milisecond description of what was happening in the bomb that drifted down in the skies above Hiroshima before it unleashed its awful power.An interesting book and well worth reading.(Feb/01)
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is an exciting book to read. Very gripping through the middle, especially the part where America raced Germany for being first to make an atomic bomb. I find the idea of the book very smart. On one hand it's an account of Albert Einstein, on the other it's the impact of one of his most important realizations on the rest of mankind.The part about what each of E, =, m, c, 2 means is a bit excessive I think, and the stuff that comes after Hiroshima drags on a bit, but I had a great time reading it nonetheless. It took only two days to finish.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Load more
scribd