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# The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg

While we may be familiar with some of science’s greatest equations, we may not know that each and every equation emerged not in “Eureka!” moments but in years of cultural developments and scientific knowledge. With vignettes full of humor, drama, and eccentricity, philosopher and science historian Robert P. Crease shares the stories behind ten of history’s greatest equatio
...more

ebook, 320 pages

Published
January 18th 2010
by W. W. Norton & Company
(first published 2008)

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## Community Reviews

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Even then, it was not a book that could be breezed through easily, despite its short length. This was especially so towards the end of the book as it moved away from classical physics, and in the final two chapters I felt severely out of my depth.

Its difficulty notwithstanding, this is a well written book that summarizes the progress of hu ...more

Oct 10, 2011
Upom
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
mathematics,
philosophy,
science,
physics,
history,
euler,
equation,
quantum-mechanics,
geometry,
newton,
pythagoras,
nonfiction,
thermodynamics

So often our culture forgets science and in our march to progress. Crease even noted that Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present barely mentions science, although mentioning almost every other aspect of a forgotten American history. Sadly, Crease also mentioned a simple rule of thumb publishers use for math in a book: for every math equation added to a popular book for science and readers, the sales of books drop by half. It's for sad reasons like these that I fee
...more

One of the interesting things is how the book demonstrates the way science progresses in fits and starts. It also shows how im ...more

If you enjoy historical anecdotes of why things are the way they are, or how something was discovered then you will devour this book.

If you respect math and history, you will appreciate these stories - however no talent in either field is required.

This is a great read. The chapters are self con ...more

__The Great Equations__is a great book that explains everything you will ever need to know about maths history and the way it has become the way it is today.

__The Great Equations__starts from the first equation being 1+1=2 and ends explaining The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Along the way we see Menos' paradox and how Pythagoras had nothing to do with the creation of the Pythagorean theorem (it was invented possibly a thousand years before Pythagoras was born in India). The book explains how eq ...more

Sep 06, 2013
Garrett Mccutcheon
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
physical-sciences,
math

A fun overview of a handful of important mathematical equations. While the author doesn't go into much depth about the

*meaning*of each equation, he does go into detail about the impact of the equation and why it was important. Any book on this type of subject is going to miss equations that some would believe are important while including some that everyone may not agree should be included; however, Crease does a satisfactory job of justifying why each equation was included. Recommended for anyo ...moreThat being said, I am happy I caught this and read it. The history behind the development of each discovery is quite fascinating. The struggles that each scientist goes through is usually so under-exposed.

But that's all it is. It writes the equation for you, tells you how it came about, provides minimal math (I really wish there were more. But I know just find a text book. Still as a reader I wouldn't be turned do ...more

The explanations behind the chosen equations were very clear and helped me to understand both their meaning and significance.

I really enjoyed how the author emphasized that these equations didn't pop onto the page out of nowhere, but were the result of the intellectual struggle of human beings who felt confusion, frustration and joy in attempting to understand and explain physical and mathematical phenomenon.

One of the best general ma ...more

Jun 20, 2013
Malik
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Anyone with an interest of Mathamatics or Physics

This was definitely a brilliant read. Crease's passion towards Mathematics and Physics permeates the pages and is quite infectious. Although some of the more complicated explanations of the equation were difficult to wrap my head around, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It's very informative and will provided you with the interesting history behind a few of the greatest equations in our history.

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Professor Robert P. Crease is Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, New York.

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“In the ancient and medieval world, the exploration of physical influences among heavenly bodies, and between the heavenly bodies and objects on earth, was generally called ‘astrology.’ But we must not confuse this with the current socially acceptable form of bigotry that seems to entitle the human beings who believe in it to prejudge the character of others based solely on their dates of birth.”
—
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