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Traveling at the Speed of Thought:
Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves
Daniel Kennefick

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Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]


"This book is worth reading not only because it gives a well-framed picture of the gravitational wave history, but also because it offers many suggestions for reflection on science in general and physics in particular. . . . There is food for thought here."--Giovanni Pretti, Mathematical Reviews

"Traveling at the Speed of Thought will be valuable for historians, sociologists, and philosophers of modern physics and others interested in the development and use of scientific theories. And it will also be of significant interest to practicing physicists and physics students."--Matthew Stanley, Isis

"This book is very insightful. It is definitely a book for physicists. The combination of history and science is at a high level of scholarship. . . . I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the theory and the history that underpins one of the fundamental foundations of modern physics."--David Blair, Australian Physics

"Traveling at the Speed of Thought is an extremely interesting reading, both for scientists and for a larger audience. It is very well documented, and conveys the sense of struggle that is associated with the evolution and strengthening of new paradigms in science."--Michele Maggiore, European Legacy


"This book is a very impressive achievement. Kennefick skillfully introduces readers to some of the most abstruse yet fascinating concepts in modern physics stemming from Einstein's gravitational theory. And he charts the often haphazard, meandering, at times contentious development of these ideas over the course of nearly a century. More than an intellectual history, this book is a kind of detective story. Amid unfolding clues, partial insights, evolving institutions, the play of personalities, and hard thinking, the reader is treated to larger lessons about how theoretical physics works. Until now, we had virtually no serious study of what happened to Einstein's general relativity after he published his famous equations. Kennefick is among the first to begin to fill in this story."--David Kaiser, author of Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics

"In this book, Kennefick describes a seventy-year quest, by three generations of physicists, to discover relativity's predictions about gravitational waves. Combining his skills as a historian with his mastery of relativity and his powers as a storyteller, he weaves a compelling narrative of intellectual battles and mathematical struggles--and extracts fascinating insights about the roles of mathematics, intuition, analogy, and style, standards of proof, and the sociology of competing schools."--Kip S. Thorne, California Institute of Technology

"This book is a very important contribution both to Einstein studies and to the history of physics in general. It is also very timely given the effort underway to detect gravitational waves. The author is in an absolutely unique position to tell this story. He is extremely well connected to the community of Einstein scholars, to the community of physicists past and present working on gravitational waves, and to the group of people working on the history of the subject."--Michel Janssen, University of Minnesota

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File created: 2/4/2015

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