In this world of science, the theory of relativity has certainly revolutionized the way people use to interpret the world, they are living in. Hence, the theory, E=mc^2, invented by the world’s famous scientist, Albert Einstein, has an important significance not only in physics but also in other domains of life for everyone. Keeping this notion in mind, ‘Harald Fritzsch’ wrote the book “E=mc^2 - An Equation That Changed the World” to bring into limelight the meaning and importance of this theory to the people of non-scientific background. The author creates a fictitious character named Haller to create a link between the works of the two great scientists of all time i.e. Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.
Using the fundamental philosophy of scientific relevance, the writer creates a collaborative approach to organize the meeting of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton along with Haller, the modern illustrated physicist. There is a parallel juxtaposition of the two great scientists with a modern physicist. Using this imaginary world of dramatization, the book presents a mode of conversation through which the fundamentals of theory related to the description, interpretation, and explanation of E=mc2 are delineated and woven into a fabric of words. During the process of introduction of the theory of relativity, the writer examines and explores the origin, function, source, method, and principle of this theory that has revolutionized our perspectives and viewpoints of the physical world. In addition, this book mirrors the dramatic evolution, development, and justification of an equation which brought about the total transformation and empowerment of the planetary and human survival for self-existence.
The story starts with Professor Adrian Haller wandering around the Cambridge University and reading the epitaph inscribed on the Newton’s tomb at Westminister’s Abbey. Wondering about the time when Newton was alive on this earth, Haller encountered Newton suddenly at the main gate of the college. The author gives a vivid description of the days when Newton arrives at Cambridge as a student and impress his mentors with his sharp intuitive skills. Newton becomes upset as he tries to understand modern physics but is able to catch only a few nuances. So, as a determined scientist, he along with Haller travel to Switzerland to explore more facts. There they meet Albert Einstein who was basking in the glory of discovering the theory of relativity at that time.
As Newton and Einstein meet, they share their contrasting views on various topics. The author very cleverly uses the fictitious character of Haller to bring forth the recent developments in the field of modern physics before the readers. The conversation between the two great scientists eventually lands up to an account of E=mc2, and subsequently highlights the difference between their theories on certain important points. About the mass in space and time, Newton was shown to be rather confused when he learned about the views of Einstein. This is shown brilliantly in the following sentence by the author himself “When I wrote the Principia, I assumed that I knew exactly what mass was. Now, after all that I've learned from you about the structure of space and time, I'm afraid I've lost all”(p.175). According to Einstein, space and time are interchangeable much like mass and energy. Another divergence was found over the topic of absolute space and absolute time. According to Newton, “Absolute space remains unchanged and motionless by its very nature, and does not depend on some external object.” Newton also emphasizes that there exists an absolute time which will be same no matter wherever a man goes. This led to a revolution in the sense the perception of people change about their world. Then comes the Einstein’s “General theory of relativity” that suggests that time and space are actually interlinked. In the book, the author very well defines the difference existing in the opinions of both the scientists on the topic of time dilation. Einstein does not seem to give up his view in spite of many answers given by Haller, in support of the Newton’s theory on time dilation. This is very well captured when Einstein tells to Haller that “But time dilation in a moving system isn’t predicted by relativity theory alone. After all, you can calculate the dilation effect precisely as a function of speed or of the gamma factor” (p.130). The shock expressed by a great scientist when he discovers how much scientific advance has been made on the topics on which he tried really hard to grasp is shown in the book in a brilliant humorous way. Newton learned from Haller during his conversation that the speed of light is constant in nature, and is depicted as a disappointed person on learning the truth. The brilliancy of the author lies in the fact that he refrains from depicting Newton as an absolute genius personality. Instead in many instances, he is shown as a normal human being with emotions of a common man like despair, sadness, joy and excitement.
Based on the aforementioned facts, description, features, interpretation, and analysis of the book, it can be right justified that the success story of every book depends upon its acceptance by the readers. The book “E=mc^2 - An Equation That Changed the World’ written by Harald Fritzsch, explains the history behind the theory of relativity. The author has successfully managed to encapsulate all his ideas and thoughts in such a manner that the equation could be understood by the readers from the non-scientific and non-mathematical background. Moreover, the relativity of the topic with the real time scenario has been successful in attracting the attention and concentration of the readers. Finally, it is understood to believe that the extensive scientific and non-scientific presentation of the book will undoubtedly help many readers to understand the relevance of this equation in our lives in an effortless manner.
- Fritzsch, Harald, E=mc^2 - An Equation That Changed the World. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994. Print.