E=MC² A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation

By David Bodanis | Go to book overview

E Is for Energy 2

The word energy is surprisingly new, and can only be traced in its modern sense to the mid 1800s. It wasn't that people before then had not recognized that there were different powers around--the crackling of static electricity, or the billowing gust of a wind that snaps our a sail. It's just that they were thought of as unrelated things. There was no overarching notion of "Energy" within which all these diverse events could fit.

One of the men who took a central role in changing this was Michael Faraday, a very good apprentice bookbinder who had no interest, however, in spending his life binding books. As an escape hatch from poverty in the London of the 1810s, though, it was a job that had one singular advantage: "There were plenty of books there," he mused years later to a friend, "and I read them." But it was fragmentary reading, and Faraday recognized that, just snatching glimpses of pages as they came in to be bound. Occasionally he had evenings alone, next to the candles or lamps, reading longer sixteen- or thirty-two-page bound sheaves.

He might have stayed a bookbinder, but although social mobility in Georgian London was very low, it

-11-

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E=MC² A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Part 1 Birth 1
  • Bern Patent Office, 1905 1 3
  • Part 2 Ancestors of E=Mc2 9
  • E is for Energy 2 11
  • = 3 23
  • M Ls for Mass 4 27
  • C is for Celeritas 5 37
  • 6 55
  • Part 3 the Early Years 71
  • Einstein and the Equation 7 73
  • Into the Atom 8 93
  • 9 Quiet in the Midday Snow 100
  • Part 4 Adulthood 115
  • Germany's Turn 10 117
  • 11 Norway 134
  • America's Turn 12 143
  • 8:16 A.M.--Over Japan 13 163
  • Part 5 Till the End of Time 171
  • The Fires of the Sun 14 173
  • 15 Creating the Earth 184
  • A Brahmin Lifts His Eyes Unto the Sky 16 195
  • Epilogue What Else Einstein Did 204
  • Appendix Follow-Up of Other-Key Participants 221
  • Notes 237
  • Guide to Further Reading 301
  • Acknowledgments 319
  • Index 325
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