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The Practical Einstein

Experiments, Patents, Inventions

József Illy

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2012 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

Albert Einstein may be best known as the wire-haired whacky physicist who gave us the theory of relativity, but that’s just one facet of this genius’s contribution to human knowledge and modern science. As József Illy expertly shows in this book, Einstein had an eminently practical side as well.

As a youth, Einstein was an inveterate tinkerer in the electrical supply factory his father and uncle owned and operated. His first paid job was as a patent examiner. Later in life, Einstein contributed to many inventions, including refrigerators…

2012 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

Albert Einstein may be best known as the wire-haired whacky physicist who gave us the theory of relativity, but that’s just one facet of this genius’s contribution to human knowledge and modern science. As József Illy expertly shows in this book, Einstein had an eminently practical side as well.

As a youth, Einstein was an inveterate tinkerer in the electrical supply factory his father and uncle owned and operated. His first paid job was as a patent examiner. Later in life, Einstein contributed to many inventions, including refrigerators, microphones, and instruments for aviation. In published papers, Einstein often provided ways to test his theories and fundamental problems of the scientific community of his times. He delved deeply into a variety of technological innovations, most notably the gyrocompass, and consulted for industry in patent cases and on other legal matters. Einstein also provided explanations for common and mundane phenomena, such as the meandering of rivers. In these and other hands-on examples culled from the Einstein Papers, Illy demonstrates how Einstein enjoyed leaving the abstract world of theories to wrestle with the problems of everyday life.

While we may like the idea of Einstein as a genius besotted by extra dimensions and too out-of-this-world to wear socks, The Practical Einstein gives ample evidence that this characterization is both incomplete and an unfair representation of a man who sought to explore the intricacies of nature, whether in theory or in practice.

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The Practical Einstein

József Illy

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Reviews

A lesser-known aspect of Einstein's incredible contribution to understanding the physical universe and human creations makes up the subject of this fascinating book... In this compact, readable account, one discovers Einstein's practical interests that lay beyond his seminal work in relativity and quantum physics... Highly recommended.

Einstein’s papers reveal a down-to-earth side. Learn about his inventions and ideas, including waterproof breathable clothes and an explanation for rivers’ meanderings.

A must for any Einstein historian and refreshing reading for anyone interested in the meanderings of a great scientist, The Practical Einstein is a special book. Enjoy!

This short but well-documented book is not a radical evaluation, but an engaging one. It suggests a more human and more 'hands-on' Einstein than the popular myth, and perhaps a better role model: his career of mixed productivity, eclectic interests, consulting work and brief enthusiasms may be recognizable to more than a few contemporary scientists.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
216
ISBN
9781421411712
Illustration Description
66 halftones, 6 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. Musings
The Flettner Ship
Why Do Rivers Meander?
2. Experiments
Michelson, Morley, and Eötvös Reinvented
The Mass of the Electron
Ampère's Molecular Currents
The Velocity of Gas

Preface
Introduction
1. Musings
The Flettner Ship
Why Do Rivers Meander?
2. Experiments
Michelson, Morley, and Eötvös Reinvented
The Mass of the Electron
Ampère's Molecular Currents
The Velocity of Gas Reactions
A Geodynamo Model?
Light: Waves or Particles?
Explaining Superconductivity
3. Expert Opinions
The Patent Office
Gyrocompasses
Mixing Tubes
Hebeluftschiff
Tungsten Wires for Incandescent Lamps
Triodes for Amplification
Sound Direction Ranging in Air and Water
Prospecting for Ore and Water from a Dirigible
Riveting Hammers and Pile Drivers
Production of High-Pressure Gases
"Electrophonic Piano"
Aerial Stereophotography
Magnetic Cores with Low Electric Conductivity
Telescope for Daylight Observations of Phenomena near the Sun
Makeup Mirror
Balanced Tapered Bearing Rollers
4. Europe an Inventions
The "Little Machine" (Maschinchen)
Planimeter
The Cat's Back Airfoil
Compasses for Land, Sea, and Air
Filtering Viruses
Refrigerators in a Row
Magnetostrictive Reproduction of Sound
Hearing Aid
5. American Inventions
Altimeter
Waterproof Breathable Clothes
Heat-Insulating Vessel
Liquid Filtering by Electrostatic Method
Automatic Correction of Measured Data
Airplane Horizon Indicator
Electrostatic Microphone
Fluid-Level Indicator
Light-Intensity Self-Adjusting Camera
Steel-Tape Recording
Aircraft Speedometer
Timer
On the Threshold of the Manhattan Project
Torpedoman Einstein
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

József Illy

József Illy is the visiting editor of the Einstein Papers and a visiting associate in history at the California Institute of Technology.
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