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Bunim & Bannigan Books

There's a crack in everything,
That's what lets the light in.
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Alone Against Gravity - Einstein in Berlin

$19.99 CAD
  • Product Code: 024

Alone Against Gravity

Einstein in Berlin: The Turbulent Birth of the Theory of Relativity, 1914-1918


By Thomas de Padova
Translated by Michal Schwartz


This informative and suspenseful book depicts Albert Einstein in a new light and illustrates the emergence of his general theory of relativity in the midst of the first world war. It shows how far Einstein as a single researcher could reach, and how he transformed from being a 'pure' scientist and an apolitical man into a politically engaged person and a pacifist by conviction.

Berlin was the mecca of physics in the beginning of the 20thcentury. In April 1914, following an invitation initiated by Max Planck, Walther Nernst, Fritz Haber and the crème de la crème of Berlin’s scientists, the 35-year-old Einstein accepted a position at the prestigious Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences. Einstein wanted to take advantage of the academic freedom and the exchange of ideas in Berlin. His marriage was falling apart, and he had recently fallen in love with his cousin, Elsa Lowenthal who lived in Berlin. He looked forward to both factors of his new life there.

Four months later, Germany mobilized its army and the roaring voices of nationalism filled all the science centers. The outbreak of World War I suddenly changed the activities, minds and relationships of German scientists and of Einstein’s relationships to his colleagues, many of whom joined the war frenzy with violent nationalism. Some changed the focus of their work and created the first weapons of mass destruction. As the war began Einstein said he felt, “alone, like a drop of oil on water, isolated by attitude and cast of mind." However, he remained in the city and at his position.

Thomas de Padova is a physicist and science writer who lives in Berlin. He is the author of award-winning history of science books. In 2014 he was given a journalist-in-residence-fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science, where he deepened his studies on Einstein and WWI to write this book. The author researched the correspondence, public speeches, newspaper articles and scientific papers of Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Fritz Haber, Walther Nernst, Max Born and other German scientists during 1910 to 1920.

Thomas de Padova

Alone Against Gravity explores why Einstein become a pacifist and how he began to devote himself to political issues.  It addresses why Einstein did not move back to Switzerland where he had citizenship and had been living previously. Most importantly, it shows how Einstein - working in the center of a collapsing world -  reinvents time and space and finishes his revolutionary theory about general relativity.