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Einstein's Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Although Einstein was the greatest genius of the twentieth century, many of his ground-breaking discoveries were blighted by mistakes, ranging from serious misconceptions in physics to blatant errors in mathematics. For instance, Einstein's first theoretical proof of the famous formula E = mc2 was incomplete and only approximately valid; he struggled with this problem for ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company (first published September 8th 2008)
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May 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, meridian
Albert Einstein was a genius. Time after time, he made theoretical leaps and discoveries that were decades ahead of the work his contemporaries were doing. He also made some colossal, amazingly bone-headed errors. In fact, according to Dr. Ohanian, a physicist himself, out of 180 scientific papers published by Einstein over his lifetime, a full 40 of them had mistakes, some of which were trifling, but many of which were significant. 40 out of 180 - that's almost a quarter of his output! Not only ...more
Apr 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-tech
Based on the description, I was excited to read this book because I thought it was going to focus on Einstein's thought process. Wouldn't that be great -- not just a description of the final form of Einstein's discovery but a in-depth description of the path he took to get there, describing both the insights and the wrong turns along the way. The book does do some of that, which is why I'm giving it a positive rating. However the author also spends a lot of time delving into Einstein's failings ...more
Georgia Hedrick
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone else, read this and tell me if you love it as much as I do.
Nov 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Probably deserves zero stars. Stay away.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I did not enjoy reading this book, but it is essential reading. The author rather gleefully catalogs every failing, plus some that I still would not consider "mistakes." However, the author is completely authoritative and deeply understands all the physics, so his analysis is a serious contribution. Briefly, like other pioneers, E. sometimes offered amazing and correct intuition with bogus arguments. Ok.
One aspect I found completely fascinating and new to me was the account of the contemporary b
Anthony Cleveland
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
An interesting read. The science requires more than a basic understanding to truly appreciate. But the less known facts about Einstein's personal life was informative. Also, the information regarding other scientists and their theories which came before Einstein and helped him to solidify his thinking was helpful. What I found most interesting was the discourse regarding the famous E=mc2 equation and the intellectual conflict between "stipulation and hypothesis". Would recommend for scientists i ...more
Eric Stiffler
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not for the laymen. Anyone could walk away with an impression, but to enjoy Ohanian one should know bits of scientific history. Many scientists mentioned made me feel lost. This gem is not only an "Einstein book." Ohanian will make you so infringed; you may find yourself rushing to pick up a dozen or more books afterwards. ...more
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
Rather pedantic. I don't even recall what point he was trying to make. ...more

Einstein succeeded not merely in spite of, but sometimes because of his mistakes. The fruitful mistakes were mainly conceptual rather than mathematical ones. For example, in formulating special relativity he decreed, rather than demonstrated, that light travels at a constant speed in a vacum regardless of how fast you are moving relative to a light source. In general relativity he started with the idea that it is impossible to distinguish in certain circumstances between acceleration due to gra

Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
O autor escreve de maneira juvenil, no pior do sentidos. No entanto, para alguém cujos conhecimentos de física basicamente param na porta do séc. XX, como eu, podem ser algumas centenas de páginas absorventes e que ajudam a entender como as descobertas quânticas e atômicas foram acontecendo.

Quanto à suposta humildade que os erros de Einstein trouxeram ao aqui repetidamente declarado Ser Humano Mais Inteligente do Século, ela não se faz presente. Nada que chegue a impedi-lo de ser o tiozão legal
J. D.
Dec 27, 2014 rated it liked it
A very interesting history of Einsteins intellectual endeavors. I came away appreciating that an important source of his genius was his intuition. His mathematical talent was apparently good, but not exceptional; or perhaps he was lazy.
Captain Nemo
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it, but bogged down around page 300.

Its still on my pile to be finished, but now on those nights when I can't sleep because of some problem of the day which I keep replaying, then I turn on the light and let Einstein's problems put me to sleep.

It may be too long.
Bookmarks Magazine
Jan 08, 2009 rated it liked it
In Einstein
Feb 03, 2016 added it
Nje nga librat me interesant qe kam lexuar per Einstein-in. Tani kam filluar ne detaje t'a percjelli mitin dhe mitet mbi njerezit me epitete. ...more
Oct 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, psychology
I didn't read the jacket. Not my cup of tea. ...more
Greg Springer
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was leery of reading the book because of its title, but very much enjoyed the book. Wasn't what I expected and has a positive theme. ...more
Carlos Amador
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Offered an interesting perspective on one of history's most brilliant minds and his life. ...more
Eric Pitre
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very easy to read plus you dont need a Ph.D in physics to understand the content. Simply loved it!
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Sep 24, 2008
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Dec 04, 2010
Francis Baraan IV
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