By Thomas Levenson
The fascinating, all-but-forgotten tale of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and the quest for a planet that by no means existed
For greater than fifty years, the world’s most sensible scientists looked for the “missing” planet Vulcan, whose life used to be mandated by means of Isaac Newton’s theories of gravity. numerous hours have been spent at the hunt for the elusive orb, and a few of the era’s such a lot expert astronomers even claimed to have chanced on it.
there has been only one challenge: It was once by no means there.
In The Hunt for Vulcan, Thomas Levenson follows the visionary scientists who inhabit the tale of the phantom planet, beginning with Isaac Newton, who in 1687 supplied an evidence for all topic in movement during the universe, resulting in Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, who nearly centuries later equipped on Newton’s theories and chanced on Neptune, changing into the main well-known scientist on the earth. Le Verrier tried to surpass that triumph through predicting the life of one more planet in our sun procedure, Vulcan.
It took Albert Einstein to parent that the secret of the lacking planet was once an issue now not of measurements or math yet of Newton’s idea of gravity itself. Einstein’s basic conception of relativity proved that Vulcan didn't and will no longer exist, and that the quest for it had only been a quirk of working below the inaccurate set of assumptions concerning the universe. Levenson tells the formerly untold story of ways the “discovery” of Vulcan within the 19th century set the level for Einstein’s enormous step forward, the best person highbrow success of the 20th century.
A dramatic human tale of an epic quest, The Hunt for Vulcan deals perception into how technology rather advances (as against the best way we’re taught approximately it in class) and the way the easiest paintings of the best scientists finds an artist’s sensibility. beginning a brand new window onto our international, Levenson illuminates a few of our such a lot iconic principles as he recounts one of many strangest episodes within the heritage of science.
Praise for The Hunt for Vulcan
“Delightful . . . a captivating story approximately an all-but-forgotten episode in technology history.”—The Wall highway Journal
“Engaging . . . At middle, this can be a tale approximately how technological know-how advances, one perception at a time. however the immediacy, virtually romance, of Levenson’s writing makes it virtually novelistic.”—The Washington Post
“A brief, superbly produced publication that tells a cautionary story. . . . Levenson is a breezy author who renders advanced rules in down-to-earth language.”—The Boston Globe
“Looping via technological know-how background from Isaac Newton onwards, Levenson elegantly finds the evolutionary nature of medical thought.”—Nature
“This pleasant and enlightening drama tells the tale of the quest for a planet that didn't exist and the way Einstein resolved the secret with the main appealing thought within the heritage of science.”—Walter Isaacson
“Equal to the easiest technology writing I’ve learn at any place, by way of any writer. superbly composed, wealthy in old context, deeply researched, it truly is, specially, nice storytelling.”—Alan Lightman, writer of The unintentional Universe
“Levenson tells us the place Vulcan got here from, the way it vanished, and why its spirit lurks this day. alongside the best way, we research greater than just a little simply how technological know-how works—when it succeeds in addition to while it fails.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Science writing at its top. This booklet is not only discovered, passionate, and witty—it is profoundly wise.”—Junot Díaz
From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional resources for The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe
See also: stars The Schwarzschild radius biological evolution is the speed of light. At this point, not even light order of 10 to 20 astronomical units. A term suggesting that common all living from some initial large and complex organic molecules that formed in the primordial oceans of an ancient Earth. things on Earth have a own becomes too strong for even neutrons and an incredibly dense point mass, or "singular- Remember, the system solar it can become a black hole. As with the formation of a white dwarf or a neutron star, the collapsing giant stars density and gravity increase with contraction.
We what we must then of are suggesting that for each is at least one planet located in a suitable habitable zone, or ecosphere. This t lizations in the R* 10 stars/year (approximately) planet-bearing star system, there = R*f„nJJJ L number 10 billion years R' = taken to for . 100 billion stars R' = of course, where some typically accepted numbers at R' Namely, insert our Galaxy to arrive proaches zero. Astronomers and astrophysicists currently While more nearly a subjective statement of probabilities than a true scientific equality, the Drake equation attempts to express the number (N) of advanced intelligent civilizations that might be communicating across interstellar distances at this time.
Closed universe A model in cosmology in which it is assumed that the Universe will one day stop expanding and eventually recollapse. The geometry of this type of spatially finite, though unbounded, Universe is like the surface of a sphere, and space is taken to have positive curvature. ) One of the great debates in modern cosmology centers around the question of whether the Universe is really open or closed. See also: astrophysics; "Big Bang" theory; cos- mology; open universe close encounter (CE) fied flying object An interaction with an unidenti- (UFO).
The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson