Notes on “The Perfect Theory”

Saturday, 10th January, 2015

book details

The Perfect Theory: a century of geniuses and the battle over general relativity
Pedro G. Ferreira
2014
Little, Brown

Summary

The best “popular science” book I’ve read in a very long time — possibly ever: calm, readable prose; clear explanations; no silly metaphors or analogies. Possibly string theory has had its day, and I was pleased to see that particle fetishism was not treated as the be-all-and-end-all of general relativity. What stood out to me most of all was the broad international perspective.

The Soviet Union

The contributions of Soviet scientists to general relativity was given a prominent place. Four names look especially interesting:

Gennady Gorelik, Scientific American 1997, The Top Secret Life of Lev Landau, academic.evergreen.edu/z/zita/articles/History/landau.pdf

Gorobets, B., (2008), “Круг Ландау: жизнь гения” (“The Landau Circle: the life of a genius”), URSS. http://urss.ru/cgi-bin/db.pl?page=Book&id=169211. n.b., this is the first book in a trilogy. The second and third volumes are “Круг Ландау: Физика войны и мира” (“The Landau Circle: Physics in war and peace”) and “Круг Ландау и Лифшица” (“The Landau Circle and Lifshitz”).

Ioffe, B. L., (2002), “Landau’s Theoretical Minimum, Landau’s Seminar, ITEP in the Beginning of the 1950’s”, http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0204295.

Tropp, E., Frenkel, V. & Chernin, A., (1988; tr. 1993), “Alexander A Friedmann: The Man who Made the Universe Expand”, CUP.

Israel

Jacob Bekenstein, Mordehai Milgrom and “Modified Newtonian Dynamics” (MOND).

Bekenstein, J., (2004), “Relativistic gravitation theory for the MOND paradigm”, Phys.Rev. D70 (2004), http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0403694.

Bekenstein, J., (2007), “The modified Newtonian dynamics — MOND — and its implications for new physics”, Contemporary Physics 47, 387 (2006) http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0701848

Africa

The Square Kilometer Array.

The core of the beast will be laid out in the Karoo desert, but a number of these dishes will be scattered throughout the continent in places like Namibia, Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar. It will be a truly continental, /African/ endeavor.

(p. 235)

http://www.ska.ac.za/
http://www.skatelescope.org

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