The Badass Scientist

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The Badass Scientist

By Athul Sudheesh Comment

When I picked up the title ‘Einstein: His Life and Universe’, a 700 page biography by Walter Isaacson, I knew it was not going to be an easy weekend read. And yes it took me more than a week to finish it. The last time I read a Walter Isaacson book was when I came across the very famous biography of Steve Jobs.

My admiration for Einstein must have started somewhere during my high school days. I even had a portrait of him in my bedroom for so many years. I was so absorbed by his thinking and publications that I even tried my luck understanding his ‘Special Theory’ and ‘General Theory’ as a high school student. I also credit him for inspiring me to be passionately curious and to develop an inquisitive mind over the years.

I was indeed on a reading spree this month and when I finished ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcom Gladwell, I was sure to pick Einstein’s biography for two reasons. One, was the confirmation of the gravitational waves which also marked 100 years of relativity and second, the release of my new blog (the same you are reading now). I couldn’t be happier than publishing my review on Einstein’s biography as my first blog post, whom I had admired from the teenage years to this date.

Walter Isaacson’s caricature of Einstein is so far the most meticulous publication ever made on Einstein’s life, his works and his thinking. The book is so scrupulously written that while reading you’ll feel as if you were watching a movie.

One of the wildly held beliefs about Einstein, which most underachieving students used to their advantage was that, Einstein flunked in math as a student. Even I used to believe it till I read ‘Einstein: His Life and Universe’. But to the contrary, he was a topper in math class and he even mastered differential and integral calculus before he was fifteen. The book is stuffed with many of such myth busters.

Einstein has been undoubtedly the most famous theoretical physicist of the 20th and 21st century and most of us only knew him as the scientist who revolutionised physics and cosmology. But Walter Isaacson’s book introduces us to the Einstein in the roles of a lazy rebellious student, a loving son, a caring lover and husband and an affectionate father.

The book also cites instances from his childhood which have had impact on his famous thought experiments and the evolution of theory of relativity. He was a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom. The book also to light the dark period of his life when he was having a hard time finding a job and how he finally settled to a 3rd class clerical job in the patent office. The book also highlights how he turned most of the odds to his advantage and how all that happened in his life led him to become the most intelligent person in the universe. Walter Isaacson was also successful in portraying the events of 1905, the miraculous year in the life of Einstein.

The book was not only a record of Einstein’s life but also an account of the scientific happenings of the 20th century.

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