352 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 0.9 in
May 27, 2014
Simon & Schuster
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1439192375
ISBN - 13: 9781439192375
From the Publisher
Drawing on the lives of five great scientists, this “scholarly, insightful, and beautifully written book” (Martin Rees, author of From Here to Infinity) illuminates the path to scientific discovery.
Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein all made groundbreaking contributions to their fields—but each also stumbled badly. Darwin’s theory of natural selection shouldn’t have worked, according to the prevailing beliefs of his time. Lord Kelvin gravely miscalculated the age of the earth. Linus Pauling, the world’s premier chemist, constructed an erroneous model for DNA in his haste to beat the competition to publication. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle dismissed the idea of a “Big Bang” origin to the universe (ironically, the caustic name he gave to this event endured long after his erroneous objections were disproven). And Albert Einstein speculated incorrectly about the forces of the universe—and that speculation opened the door to brilliant conceptual leaps. As Mario Livio luminously explains in this “thoughtful meditation on the course of science itself” (The New York Times Book Review), these five scientists expanded our knowledge of life on earth, the evolution of the earth, and the evolution of the universe, despite and because of their errors.
“Thoughtful, well-researched, and beautifully written” (The Washington Post), Brilliant Blunders is a wonderfully insightful examination of the psychology of five fascinating scientists—and the mistakes as well as the achievements that made them famous.
About the Author
Mario Livio was born in 1945 in Romania. When he was 5 years old, he immigrated with his grandparents to Israel. He received undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a M.Sc. degree in theoretical particle physics at the Weizmann Institute, and a Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics at Tel-Aviv University. He was a professor of physics at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology from 1981 until 1991. He is a senior astrophysicist at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute. He has published over 400 scientific papers. He has also written several books including The Accelerating Universe, The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved, Is God a Mathematician?, and Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe. The Golden Ratio received the International Pythagoras Prize and the Peano Prize.
“The stories of how these blunders came about, and what happened next, are extremely well researched, and they shed a welcome, informative, entertaining and sometimes new light on science as a deeply human activity.”