E=mc^2 A biography of the world's most famous equation - download pdf or read online

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But Einstein felt his teachers had missed the point. They were not treating it as a live topic, honestly hunting for what it might mean, trying to feel for those background religious intimations that had driven Faraday and others forward. Instead, energy and its conservation was just a formalism to most of them, a set of rules. There was a great complacency throughout much of Western Europe at the time. European armies were the most powerful in the world; European ideas were “clearly” superior to those of all other civilizations.

There once had been a physical wall around Paris, but it dated from medieval times, and had long since become nearly useless for taxation. Tollgates were crumbling, and many areas were so broken that smugglers could just walk in. Lavoisier decided to build another wall, a massive one, where everyone could be stopped, searched, and forced to pay tax. It cost the equivalent, in today’s currency, of several hundred million dollars; it was the Berlin Wall of its time. It was six feet high, of heavy masonry, with dozens of solid tollgates and patrol roads for armed guards.

Possibly it was ungainly and wobbled during its orbit; or possibly there were clouds or other disturbances around Jupiter that obscured Io unevenly. Roemer reversed the problem. Cassini had made observations of Io, and the observations showed that something about its orbit was not smooth. But why should the flaw be assumed to rest far away near Jupiter? The question wasn’t how Io was traveling, thought Roemer. It was how Earth was traveling. To Cassini, this couldn’t possibly matter. Although he may once have considered a different possibility, like almost everyone else, he was convinced that light traveled as an instantaneous flash.

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