The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein: The world of science is greatly fortunate that a theoretical physicist of the distinction of Abraham Pais should have discovered within himself not only a particular talent for scientific biography but also a passionate desire to convey to us his unique perspective on the momentous developments in 20th-century physics that he had witnessed.
Himself a very significant later contributor, Pais had been well acquainted with most of the key figures in this highly remarkable period of scientific development, and he was able to combine his own deep understanding of the central physical ideas with personal knowledge of these individuals.
Pais had worked with Niels Bohr in 1946 and later wrote a comprehensive biography of Bohr’s life and work. Subsequently, he provided short biographies of many other outstanding figures of the time, with whom he had been personally acquainted, such as Paul Dirac, Wolfgang Pauli, John Von Neumann, and Eugene Wigner. But the book that launched Pais’s biographical career was his landmark biography of Einstein, entitled “Subtle is the Lord”, the title being an English translation of part of a quotation from Einstein (inscribed, in 1930, in marble above the fireplace in the faculty lounge of the mathematics building in Princeton) which in the original German reads
“Raffiniert ist der Herrgott aberboshaft ist er nicht.”
Pais translates this as “Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not”.
By Abraham Pais
Peace to all who follow guidance (20.47)
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Contents of The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein:
1. Purpose and plan 5
2. Relativity theory and quantum theory 26
(a) Orderly transitions and revolutionary periods 26
(b) A time capsule 31
3. Portrait of the physicist as a young man 35
An addendum on Einstein biographies 48
II STATISTICAL PHYSICS
4. Entropy and probability 55
(a) Einstein’s contributions at a glance 55
(b) Maxwell and Boltzmann 60
(c) Preludes to 1905 65
(d) Einstein and Boltzmann’s principle 70
5. The reality of molecules 79
(a) About the nineteenth century, briefly 79
1. Chemistry. 2. Kinetic theory. 3. The end of indivisibility.
4. The end of invisibility
(b) The pots of Pfeffer and the laws of van’t Hoff 86
(c) The doctoral thesis 88
(d) Eleven days later: Brownian motion 93
1. Another bit of nineteenth-century history. 2. The overdetermination of N.
3. Einstein’s first paper on Brownian motion. 4. Diffusion as a Markov process.
5. The later papers
(e) Einstein and Smoluchowski; critical opalescence 100
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