Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics by Fulvio Melia

Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics

byFulvio Melia

Hardcover | October 1, 2009

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Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity describes the effect of gravitation on the shape of space and the flow of time. But for more than four decades after its publication, the theory remained largely a curiosity for scientists; however accurate it seemed, Einstein’s mathematical code—represented by six interlocking equations—was one of the most difficult to crack in all of science. That is, until a twenty-nine-year-old Cambridge graduate solved the great riddle in 1963. Roy Kerr’s solution emerged coincidentally with the discovery of black holes that same year and provided fertile testing ground—at long last—for general relativity. Today, scientists routinely cite the Kerr solution, but even among specialists, few know the story of how Kerr cracked Einstein’s code.

Fulvio Melia here offers an eyewitness account of the events leading up to Kerr’s great discovery. Cracking the Einstein Code vividly describes how luminaries such as Karl Schwarzschild, David Hilbert, and Emmy Noether set the stage for the Kerr solution; how Kerr came to make his breakthrough; and how scientists such as Roger Penrose, Kip Thorne, and Stephen Hawking used the accomplishment to refine and expand modern astronomy and physics. Today more than 300 million supermassive black holes are suspected of anchoring their host galaxies across the cosmos, and the Kerr solution is what astronomers and astrophysicists use to describe much of their behavior.

By unmasking the history behind the search for a real world solution to Einstein’s field equations, Melia offers a first-hand account of an important but untold story. Sometimes dramatic, often exhilarating, but always attuned to the human element, Cracking the Einstein Code is ultimately a showcase of how important science gets done.

About The Author

Fulvio Melia is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Arizona and author of numerous books, including, most recently, The Galactic Supermassive Black Hole.

Details & Specs

Title:Cracking the Einstein Code: Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole PhysicsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:150 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:October 1, 2009Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226519511

ISBN - 13:9780226519517

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Table of Contents

Preface

          Einstein’s Code

          Space and Time

          Gravity

          Four Pillars and a Prayer

          An Unbreakable Code

          Roy Kerr

          The Kerr Solution

          Black Hole

          The Tower

          New Zealand

          Kerr in the Cosmos

          Future Breakthrough

Afterword

References

Index

Editorial Reviews

"A delight to read. Highly recommended."