The book 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 20th century. 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.
Alone Against Gravity explores why Einstein became 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.
Translated by Michal Schwart
Thomas De Padova studied physics and astronomy. He lives in and is board member of Magnus House (of the German Physical Society) and member of the Urania Scientific Society program advisory board. He is the author of numerous books on among them the award winning double biography: The Secret of the World. Kepler Galilei and the Measuring of Heaven (2010) and Leibnitz Newton and the Invention of Time (2013).
Winner of 'Science book of the year' award in Germany 2015
"Thomas de Padova elegantly weaves the private life of the famous physicist his theoretical knowledge and the events of the First World War into a thrilling story." -Anne Kathrin Weber, Max Planch Research.
"What makes Padova's book worth reading is the confrontation between war-fever and an individual's persistence between absurd war-logic and clear thought." -Norbert Zähringer Die Welt
"A highly gripping reading. De Padova has the gift to bring together the personal historical and scientific aspects in an equally clear and entertaining fashion." -Dorothee Nolte Tagesspiegel
"Thomas de Padova captivatingly tells how Einstein drew a new image of the universe in the midst of the First World War... Rarely have we readers been brought so close simultaneously/at once to the person and the physicist Albert Einstein as in this book." -Wolfgang Stieler Technology Review.