Paul Johnson is a leading historian and journalist whose historical works have been translated into many languages. Born into a Roman Catholic family in Lancashire, England, he has remained a practicing Catholic and has covered every papal conclave since the 1950s. Among his books are Modern Times, A History of the Jews, Intellectuals, The Birth of the Modern, and A History of the English People. Johnson writes a weekly essay for the Spectator and is a frequent contributor to The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers and magazines throughout the world. He lives in London.
View Sample Chapter
A Relativistic World
The modern world began on 29 May 1919 when photographs of a solar eclipse, taken on the island of Principe off West Africa and at Sobral in Brazil, confirmed the truth of a new theory of the universe. It had been apparent for half a century that the Newtonian cosmology, based upon the straight lines of Euclidean geometry and Galileo's notions of absolute time, was in need of serious modification. It had stood for more than two hundred years. It was the framework within which the European Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the vast expansion of human knowledge, freedom and prosperity which characterized the nineteenth century, had taken place. But increasingly powerful telescopes were revealing anomalies. In particular, the motions of the planet Mercury deviated by forty-three seconds of arc a century from its predictable behaviour under Newtonian laws of physics. Why?
In 1905, a twenty-six-year-old German Jew, Albert Einstein, then working in the Swiss patent office in Berne, had published a paper, "On the electrodynamics of moving bodies", which became known as the Special Theory of Relativity. Einstein's observations on the way in which, in certain circumstances, lengths appeared to contract and clocks to slow down, are analogous to the effects of perspective in painting. In fact the discovery that space and time are relative rather than absolute terms of measurement is comparable, in its effect on our perception of the world, to the first use of perspective in art, which occurred in Greece in the two decades c.500-480 BC.
The originality of Einstein, amounting to a form of genius, and the curious elegance of his lines of argument, which colleagues compared to a kind of art, aroused growing, world-wide interest. In 1907 he published a demonstration that all mass has energy, encapsulated in the equation E = mc2, which a later age saw as the starting point in the race for the A-bomb. Not even the onset of the European war prevented scientists from following his quest for an all-embracing General Theory of Relativity which would cover gravitational fields and provide a comprehensive revision of Newtonian physics. In 1915 news reached London that he had done it. The following spring, as the British were preparing their vast and catastrophic offensive on the Somme, the key paper was smuggled through the Netherlands and reached Cambridge, where it was received by Arthur Eddington, Professor of Astronomy and Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Eddington publicized Einstein's achievement in a 1918 paper for the Physical Society called "Gravitation and the Principle of Relativity". But it was of the essence of Einstein's methodology that he insisted his equations must be verified by empirical observation and he himself devised three specific tests for this purpose. The key one was that a ray of light just grazing the surface of the sun must be bent by 1.745 seconds of arc -- twice the amount of gravitational deflection provided for by classical Newtonian theory. The experiment involved photographing a solar eclipse. The next was due on 29 May 1919. Before the end of the war, the Astronomer Royal, Sir Frank Dyson, had secured from a harassed government the promise of £1,000 to finance an expedition to take observations from Principe and Sobral.
Early in March 1919, the evening before the expedition sailed, the astronomers talked late into the night in Dyson's study at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, designed by Wren in 1675-6, while Newton was still working on his general theory of gravitation. E.T. Cottingham, Eddington's assistant, who was to accompany him, asked the awful question: what would happen if measurement of the eclipse photographs showed not Newton's, nor Einstein's, but twice Einstein's deflection? Dyson said, "Then Eddington will go mad and you will have to come home alone." Eddington's notebook records that on the morning of 29 May there was a tremendous thunderstorm in Principe. The clouds cleared just in time for the eclipse at 1.30 pm. Eddington had only eight minutes in which to operate. "I did not see the eclipse, being too busy changing plates...We took sixteen photographs." Thereafter, for six nights he developed the plates at the rate of two a night. On the evening of 3 June, having spent the whole day measuring the developed prints, he turned to his colleague, "Cottingham, you won't have to go home alone." Einstein had been right.
The expedition satisfied two of Einstein's tests, which were reconfirmed by W.W. Campbell during the September 1922 eclipse. It was a measure of Einstein's scientific rigour that he refused to accept that his own theory was valid until the third test (the "red shift") was met. "If it were proved that this effect does not exist in nature", he wrote to Eddington on 15 December 1919, "then the whole theory would have to be abandoned". In fact the "red shift" was confirmed by the Mount Wilson observatory in 1923, and thereafter empirical proof of relativity theory accumulated steadily, one of the most striking instances being the gravitational lensing system of quasars, identified in 1979-80. At the time, Einstein's professional heroism did not go unappreciated. To the young philosopher Karl Popper and his friends at Vienna University, "it was a great experience for us, and one which had a lasting influence on my intellectual development". "What impressed me most", Popper wrote later, "was Einstein's own clear statement that he would regard his theory as untenable if it should fail in certain tests.... Here was an attitude utterly different from the dogmatism of Marx, Freud, Adler and even more so that of their followers. Einstein was looking for crucial experiments whose agreement with his predictions would by no means establish his theory; while a disagreement, as he was the first to stress, would show his theory to be untenable. This, I felt, was the true scientific attitude..."
Barnes & Noble.com Various Shipping Locations, USA
Brand new, ships from the closest shipping location to your shipping address!
$6.49 +$3.99 s/h
EasyReader Tx Austin, TX
Good Moderate cover wear, solid binding, no underlining or highlighting. Ships same/next day with tracking/delivery confirmation.
$7.55 +$3.99 s/h
spellbound PA McKeesport, PA
2001-08-07 Paperback Revised Fine 0060935502 **Revised Edition** LIKE NEW/UNREAD! ! ! Text is Clean and Unmarked! ! ! --Be Sure to Compare Seller Feedback and Ratings before Purchasing--Has a small ...show moreblack line on the bottom/exterior edge of pages. Tracking is not available for orders shipped outside of the United States. If you would like to track your domestic order please be sure to select the Priority/Expedited Shipping option. ...show less
$7.75 +$3.99 s/h
Labyrinthbooks Pennington, NJ
$7.99 +$3.99 s/h
SweetPlumBooks Beaufort, NC
No comments from the seller
$8.95 +$3.99 s/h
Strand Bookstore New York, NY
A New York Times Best Book of the Year. Wide-ranging and quirky, this expansive history of our times (since WWII) hits all the highlights and hot spots: the Russian Revolution, the rise of Hitler, WW...show moreII, 1968,the 1980s (?). Johnson is also the author of The Birth of the Modern, Intellectuals, A History of the Jews. Source Notes, Index. 870p. ...show less
$11.39 +$3.99 s/h
RTE Books Goshen, CT
Fine It has probably been read once and has a one inch rippling of the plastic coating on the front cover edge, otherwise in truly like new condition.
$11.70 +$3.99 s/h
Adoremus Books Omaha, NE
100% Brand New! - In Stock at our Warehouse in Omaha, NE. Ships out Fast! We provide Email Tracking and Shipment Information. We recommend Expedited Shipping for much faster delivery! Buy from us an...show mored you will keep coming back! ...show less
$12.00 +$3.99 s/h
citywbooks Salt Lake City, UT
Like new with light shelf wear. Quick response!
$12.25 +$3.99 s/h
PaperbackshopUS Secaucus, NJ
New Book. Shipped from US within 4 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000
$13.17 +$3.99 s/h
TrackedBooksUS Secaucus, NJ
New Book. FREE TRACKING ON ALL ORDERS. Shipped from US. Standard Shipping is 4 to 14 business days. Expedited Shipping is 3 to 6 business days. Established seller since 2000
Free Shipping Get Free Shipping on orders over $25 (not including Rental and Marketplace). Order arrives in 5-10 business days.
Need it faster? We offer fast, flat-rate expedited shipping options.
Not the right book for you? We'll gladly take it back within 30 days.
To return an eTextbook:
Your eTextbook is non-returnable once it's been activated. You must contact us about returning your eTextbook before you activate it.
Returns are accepted within 30 days of the purchase date on your order confirmation.
This book qualifies for guaranteed cash back! Buy it now for , then:
Sell it back by:
Guaranteed cash back:
Cost of this book after cash back:
Take advantage of Guaranteed Cash Back. Send your book to us in good condition before the end of the buyback period, we'll send YOU a check, and you'll pay less for your textbooks!
If you find this book for less on Amazon.com (direct from Amazon, not marketplace sellers), we'll match it.
In our warehouse, waiting to ship directly to you.
We hand-inspect every used textbook to make sure it's in good condition.
Buy it now. Sell it later!
Sell this textbook for cash!
When you're done with this book, sell it back to Textbooks.com. In addition to the best possible buyback price, you'll get an extra 10% cash back just for being a customer.
We buy good-condition used textbooks year 'round, 24/7. No matter where you bought it, Textbooks.com will buy your textbooks for the most cash.
We hand-inspect every one of our used textbooks to ensure good condition.
Our used textbooks do NOT have:
Missing or torn pages
Missing or torn cover
Torn or damaged binding
A broken spine
This textbook has never been used.
Due to the size of eTextbooks, a high-speed internet connection (cable modem, DSL, LAN) is required for download stability and speed. Your connection can be wired or wireless.
Being online is not required for reading an eTextbook after successfully downloading it. You must only be connected to the Internet during the download process.
Windows XP, Windows Vista or Mac OS X 10.3 or above
At least 280 MB RAM, a 600 mHZ processor and 110 MB of hard drive space
1024x768 (or larger) screen resolution
What is the Marketplace? It's another way for you to get the right price on the books you need. We approved every Marketplace vendor to sell their books on Textbooks.com, so you know they're all reliable.
What are Marketplace shipping options? Marketplace items do not qualify for free shipping. When ordering from the Marketplace, please specify whether you want the seller to send your book Standard ($3.99/item) or Express ($6.99/item). To get free shipping over $25, just order directly from Textbooks.com instead of through the Marketplace.
FREE UPS 2nd Day Air Terms
Rental and Marketplace items are excluded. Offer is valid from 1/21/2013 12:00PM to 1/23/2013 11:59AM CST. Your order must be placed by 12 Noon CST to be processed on the same day. Minimum order value is $100.00 excluding Rental and Marketplace items. To redeem this offer, select "FREE UPS 2ND DAY AIR" at checkout. Offer not is not valid on previous orders.
Compared to the prices of new and used, sold directly from Amazon.com (not marketplace sellers). If you find Amazon.com directly selling the textbook for a lower price, WE'LL MATCH IT...GUARANTEED. details