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May 09, 2014, 03:19 PM
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I’m working up a review of reviews of Nicholas Wade’s book, to be posted probably tonight.

In the meantime, while the human sciences are the fun place to be right now, let’s not ignore the many good books for general-interest readers on the physical sciences.

One such is the subject of my fortnightly “Shelf Life” review over at The American Spectator. The book is Pedro Ferreira’s The Perfect Theory:

41LyUE966kL[1]On November 25, 1915, Einstein presented his new equations to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in a short three-page paper,” this author tells us. Thus was the General Theory of Relativity born, after of course some years of gestation in Einstein’s remarkable brain.

With the centenary of that event almost upon us, a historical survey is in order. In The Perfect Theory, Pedro Ferreira, a professor of astrophysics at Oxford University, has supplied one.

My 900-word review actually contains more equations than Prof. Ferreira’s 300-page book. I guess the author has taken to heart Stephen Hawking’s rule: that every equation you put in your pop-science book reduces sales by 1,000 copies.

If the Hawking rule is true, that’s a pity. The equations of Relativity, even those of the General Theory, are mostly simple and elegant; and an equation breaks up the page nicely, giving the eye something to dwell on.