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The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,481 ratings  ·  97 reviews
For the alternate cover edition by Simon & Schuster, see here

Clear and concise explanations of the development of theories explaining physical phenomena.
Paperback, 330 pages
Published October 30th 1967 by Touchstone (first published 1938)
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Thomas Freeman
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the explanations given in this book. The author is Einstien but the writing is Infeld. He worked very closely with Einstien.

They begin with basic mechanics and work their way through field physics, special and general relativity and then finally to quantum mechanics. All of this is done without mathematic equations. It is all explained through analogies, theories and explanation or real world experiments.

It is a very interesting read if for no other reason than to see the devel
Anna Hiller
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dad
Recommended to Anna by: Marybeth
Shelves: physics
This book is so polite! Written in 1938, apparently more by Infeld than by Einstein, it is exceedingly proper and therefore delightful, as well as thorough. It is a beautiful book, very clear and precise, and should be read by all armchair physicists with a serious hankering to understand relativity theory, as well as the importance of the quantum theory.
Mengsen Zhang
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely awesome! In my mind, this book is more about psychology or cognition rather than physics. I love books whose plots are connected by logic rather than irrelevant story telling.
More precisely, this book is about how human "create" knowledge and the nature of reality. There is in fact no force, no field, no charge. All we have is motion, along with, at best, the tendency of motion. The "scientific" concepts are artificially created to, and only to, classify unrelated events that only ma
Bob Nichols
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Einstein-Infeld (an Einstein associate) trace the transition, forced by findings in the late 19th and early 20th century, between classical physics and modern physics that challenged the Newtonian explanation of the world. Newton, the authors state, was not so much replaced as he was incorporated into a higher-level, more encompassing paradigm.

In a way, the transition was fueled by Hegelian-like contradictions along several lines. The wave nature of particles (photons, electrons) was at odds wit
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, science
Einstein has a reputation not only as a physicist, but as a humanitarian. The clarity and style of this book reinforces the reputation.

Slowly, carefully and with great concern that the reader not be left behind, Einstein and his co-author tell what could be a bewildering tale by demonstrating how the science of the physical relationship of things evolved.

It did so for the reason that all science evolves: questions, in being answered, pose further questions. The pursuit of the unknown, with the n
Steve Bolin
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting book. Most of it was written by Leopold Infeld who was a colleague of Einstein and a fellow refugee from Europe. Infeld could not get a permanent appointment at Princeton due to a bitter rivalry within the Physics department so he came up with the idea of writing a popular, non mathematical monograph explaining the history of physics. Einstein readily agreed and this allowed Infeld to obtain a secure source of funding. Einstein's name appears first only because his was the better kno ...more
Kinan Diraneyya
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: natural-science
The book presents very good explanation of how our understanding of physics changed since the 18th century; although, unlike what you expect from a book discussing the evolution of a certain topic, this one doesn't actually pay that much attention to names and debates, instead, it goes about experiments in an abstract manner, to a point where you can't be sure if one particular experiments was actually attempted or if the whole thing was purely hypothetical.

This is one of those books that almost
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a pretty good explanation of the history of physics, from Galileo to quantum theory. It is set out in a fairly comprehensible manner, and there are a lot of analogies used. This isn't going to help you much with exams but it's a great way to get your head round the overall structure of physics.
Erdogan Cicek
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is briefly and clearly explains the transition of the physical phenomenas from classical to modern area and why we should think so in order to improve our way of vision..
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I first picked this book up thinking that it would provide a broad overview of the entire history of Physics. I really wanted Einstein's take on Aristotle, Lucretius and maybe even the pre-Socratics in a sweeping history of scientific thought. On this account, I was sorely disappointed. Einstein summarily dismisses all physics prior to Galileo, and I almost summarily dismissed the book as a result. It sat on my shelf for about two years until I recently picked it up thinking I needed a new way o ...more
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physics
An accessible, straightforward journey through the rise and fall of various theories at the heart of physics, from Newton's time to the early 20th century era of Einstein and Infeld. Although "rise and fall" is not quite accurate; the authors stress that new theories tend to broaden the scope of the old theories rather than upending them entirely. Thus, for example, today we freely make use of Newtonian mechanics when dealing with non-relativistic speeds, or use Maxwell's equations when the elec ...more
Nov 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book offers two things:
1. A summary of physics, from classical mechanics, to field theory, general relativity and quantum theory (as it was understood in 1938 when the book was first published). The presentation is oriented towards laymen and avoids using any mathematical formulas. The explanations of the basic ideas of physics are marvelously clear and straightforward. However, the self-imposed strict avoidance of math, although probably appealing to the wide audience, sometimes resulted i
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Einstein's first wife may have had even a better concept of the evolution of physics than Einstein himself.

She played a MAJOR part in relativity.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-have-in-de
One of the best books to understand the nature of physics! No need of previous scientific background.
Michael Huang
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book started with the classic mechanics view and progresses to newer physics and why they are needed to explain newer phenomena the classic view fails to explain satisfactorily.

You can tell Einstein had something to do with the book as the discussion on both special and general relativity are a master of clarity and insight. Unfortunately, the book falls short in two respects. The first is that it’s very verbose in a lot of places. Blame it on Infield — it’s not Einstein’s style. The second
Luis Espinoza
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is so far the most legible introduction/explanation of the development of physical theories I have read so far. The vocabulary is considerably simple and the illustrations are clear enough to make the basic concepts approachable for someone with no formal studies in the area like me. The book has no mathematical explanations, and Einstein says that in doing so he is sacrificing precision, and this is surely true, however the point of the book is not to present a precise understanding of phy ...more
Antoine Patt
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Einstein, through this book, unfolds the intricated lines of ideas that forged what is today's physics understanding. It gives a rather clear insight of why people put their faith and reason in some theories, and casted shadows of disapprovement on others. But the most interesting in my opinion is to learn more about the tipping points before each thought revolution. Those periods were highly tensed from the intellectual point of view. They reflect how difficult it can be for new and counterintu ...more
Chris Riddick
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! This should be required reading for all freshman physics majors in college. I only wish I had read this book when I first began my college program in physics and math. It would have helped lay the groundwork for all the the courses I took, setting everything in context. This book leads the student through the thought processes, experimentation, and theoretical work that got us from the early scientific age into the modern era of physics. Concepts with which students struggle are ...more
Vishesh Agarwal
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book more stars.
This is an amazing Physics read. It explains so much so well.

The part 'Field, Relativity' is just perfect.
The presentation of general relativity and of field as structure laws is breathtaking.
This was such a deep understanding of Physics, of explaining each clue, of turning each stone...
It went on with so much force.... Let's try this theory.. didn't work... Let's try that theory.. no.. Let's see what would an elegant theory should look like and yes, le
Mark Leone
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The path Einstein takes the reader down as he describes our world in ever more detail, starting with Galileo and Newton and ending with Bohr and Heisenberg, is an amazing journey eloquently relayed in plain understandable language.
In my opinion, modern textbook authors could be much more effective if they followed his example.
Fred Kohn
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I once read a book of essays by Einstein and the writing was horrible to follow. I have heard similar stories about Einstein's book on relativity. The book, on the other hand, was a joy to read. No doubt this is due to Einstein's co-author.
Craig Zamboni
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
The second generation of physics. Relativity, Special Relativity and Quantum theory explained by the genus himself. A classic in the annuals of scientific literature. Must read for all who love pure science and the theory behind how our universe works.
David Farag
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it
It is good and gives a lot of intuition and many historical glimpses for the development of modern physics, but since it is for non-specialists, I found it quite superficial. However, it is very good for a pop-science book.
Aug 07, 2007 marked it as to-read
Heard about this book while listening to a podcast interview with Walter Isaacson, author of the recent bestseller, 'Einstein: His Life and Universe.'
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the clearest books on relativity (and Newtonian physics) I have read
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
On my top 10 out of 10,000. Essential.
Aug 15, 2008 rated it liked it
My rating is an indication of how much I understood. I think on a second pass it would increase
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Helped me develop my mathematical equation to predicted the enthalpy n electromagnetic waves between radical reactions!!!! Woot woot
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
best physics book ever
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In 1879, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Zurich by 1909. His 1905 paper explaining the photoelectric effect, the basis of electronics, earned him the Nobel Prize in 1921. His first paper on Special Relativity Theory, also published in 1905, changed the world. After the rise of the Nazi party, Einstein made Princeton his permanent home, becoming ...more

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