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E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation | [David Bodanis]

E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation

David Bodanis demystifies the world's most famous equation, explaining its science and bringing it to life. He makes clear the astonishing array of discoveries and consequences it made possible and its impact on our daily lives. At last, the masses can understand that Einstein did nothing less than open the door to the inner structure of the universe.
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Publisher's Summary

Generations have grown up knowing that the equation E=mc2 changed the shape of our world, but never understanding what it actually means and why it was so significant. Here, Bodanis writes the "biography" of this great discovery and turns a seemingly impenetrable theory into a dramatic and accessible human achievement. Bodanis begins by introducing the science and scientists forming the backdrop to Einstein's discovery. Having demystified the equation, he explains its science and brings it to life; making clear the astonishing array of discoveries and consequences it made possible and its impact on our daily lives. At last, the masses can understand that Einstein did nothing less than open the door to the inner structure of the universe.

Executive Producer: Karen DiMattia
©2000 David Bodanis
(P)2002 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"It's a well-known equation, yet who but physicists really understand E=mc2? Bodanis rescues the masses from ignorance in an entertaining story about Einstein's formulation of the equation in 1905 and its association ever after with relativity and nuclear energy." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (442 )
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4.3 (74 )
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  •  
    William P. Alford MD Denver, CO 02-18-10
    William P. Alford MD Denver, CO 02-18-10 Member Since 2002
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    15
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    "Entertaining too!"

    As entertaining as it is enlightening. A thoroughly enjoyable experience, and well-read by the narrator. I now have a greater understanding of the bomb, nuclear power, fusion vs fission, and insights into the people who brought forth the new physics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry Sherman Oaks, CA, USA 04-01-08
    Terry Sherman Oaks, CA, USA 04-01-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Great theoretical physics for laymen"

    My favorite book about effects and meaning of Einstein's equation. The big epiphany for me was: why MC SQUARED? Wasn't the speed of light fast enough already? The book explained that. And the millisecond-by-millisecond description of the Hiroshima bomb explosion was unforgettable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Riverview, FL, USA 08-02-07
    Michael Riverview, FL, USA 08-02-07
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    "Facinating"

    This book truly lives up to its stated goal to explain what this famous equation means. The author explains each aspect in an easily understood manner and I enjoyed the illustrations and scientific history behind what led to these great discoveries. If you enjoy science but do not want to be overwhelmed, this is a great read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabriel Las Vegas, NV, United States 04-03-07
    Gabriel Las Vegas, NV, United States 04-03-07 Member Since 2004
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    5
    1
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    "Interesting"

    This book is worth a listen. The author does a good job explaining Einstein's central idea and how it relates to everything around us. There is a good mix of history and science. If you want to understand E=mc2, grab this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana Ozark, MO, USA 11-26-06
    Dana Ozark, MO, USA 11-26-06
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    "E=MC2"

    If you have ever wondered about the equation E=MC2, this book does an excellent job of explaining it to any novice in physics. Excellently written and presented.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Howell, NJ, USA 07-15-03
    James Howell, NJ, USA 07-15-03
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    "Informative, educational but not entertaining"

    The many tangents of this 'biography' were quite enlightening. The people contributing to the discoveries, the proof, the dis-proofs were fasinating. The politics alone made for interesting reading and insight I had not previously imaged. I had also hoped for the book to be entertaining but that was not to be. Certainly it had not promised that but still I was disappointed somehow. If one goes into this text with little understanding of physics and math structure, one will probably not derive too much from it. Conversely, if one possesses a fair understanding of these concepts, the text will fall short. That is the nature of the beast I suspect. Still, I would recommend it and suggest one expect only a little and be pleasantly uplifted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Olney, IL, USA 09-15-05
    Lisa Olney, IL, USA 09-15-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    5
    2
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    "Good physics, lousy agenda"

    When the author sticks to physics, the book is excellent. When he takes leaps of ignorance and bashes (mildly) Christianity and the Bible, he cheapens himself and leads the listener astray. It is painful enough to listen to "billions of years of age" theory talk...just stick to the subject which is "E=MC2".

    8 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 06-27-06
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 06-27-06 Member Since 2006
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    "Read Electric Universe instead"

    This would definitely be a good buy if you this is your first pulp science book, or if you have absolutely no idea what the letters in E=mc2 stand for. If you know absolutely anything about science, skip this one in favor of a more advanced book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Baltimore, MD, USA 04-05-06
    Timothy Baltimore, MD, USA 04-05-06
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    7
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    "Great book. Wanted more science, less history."

    Bodanis has surely succeeded in fulfilling the challenge presented in the book's opening chapter, teaching Cameron Diaz (and the reader) what E=MC2 really means.

    As an avid science reader I am often lost to the words of science writers who fail to translate their concepts clearly or confuse the reader with their lack of metaphor and context. This book was a gem. While I agree with the assessment about the book focusing on A-Bomb development a little too much (frankly, this IS the outcome of the equation and to snub the massive slaughter with a quick reference would be unthinkable), I wasn't aware of any religion bashing....but then again I don't actively look for opportunities to defend the flying spagetti monster either.

    Highly recommended!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Nelson 02-12-06
    Mark Nelson 02-12-06 Member Since 2003
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    "E=mc2"

    Moderately interesting, this book provides a general explanation of relativity which isn't bad nor is it very original. The book then becomes a superficial history of the development of the A-bomb laden with some revisionist opinions. Overall, the book lacks focus and readers can find better material on each of its several subjects.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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