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Centennial books illuminate Einstein’s greatest triumph

Scholars mark general relativity anniversary with books on history, biography, science

7:00am, October 4, 2015

BRILLIANCE  Four new books put Einstein’s general theory of  relativity in historic and scientific context. 

You don’t need an anniversary as an excuse to write a book about Albert Einstein. But the centennial of his general theory of relativity has nonetheless provided an occasion for several new entries in the Einstein library. And even though general relativity — Einstein’s theory of gravity — has been thoroughly explored many times, some 2015 publications do offer new twists and insights.

Thomas Levenson’s The Hunt for Vulcan, for instance, places Einstein’s general relativity in a broader context than usual. Rich in historical detail, if not so much the science, Levenson’s book is a skillful popularization of the backstory to one of Einstein’s key accomplishments — explaining an oddity in the orbit of Mercury. That mystery had been around since the middle of the 19th century, when the French mathematician Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier

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