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In Five Equations That Changed the World, Dr. Michael Guillen, known to millions as the Science Editor on ABC-TV's Good Morning America, tells the amazing stories of the people and discoveries that led to the five most powerful and important scientific achievements in human history. In doing so, Dr. Guillen reveals in simple, everyday language the secret world of mathematics. It was through the brilliance of these five fascinating people: a sickly love-starved loner; an emotionally abused prodigy from a dysfunctional family; a religious, poverty-stricken illiterate; a soft-spoken widower living in perilous times; and a smart-alecky high-school dropout - that we were able to harness the power of electricity, fly in airplanes, land astronauts on the moon, build a nuclear bomb, and understand the mortality of all life on Earth.
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Guillen, an instructor in physics and mathematics at Harvard, devotes this work to discussions of five significant equations in physics and the individuals who developed them. The individuals are Issac Newton (universal gravitation), Daniel Bernoulli (hydrodynamic pressure), Michael Faraday (thermodynamics), Rudolf Clausius (thermodynamics), and Albert Einstein (special relativity). Guillen sets their work in the context of the science of their times with accounts that are obviously fictionalized, containing many purported conversations and private thoughts of the physicists in question. The prose is quite purplish in places, and the matters of fact and interpretation are often questionable if not outright wrong. Not recommended for most libraries.‘Jack W. Weigel, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor

Harvard mathematician-physicist Guillen, who explored the human side of mathematics in Bridges to Infinity, now profiles five pioneers whose mathematical equations had far-reaching impacts. This seamless blend of dramatic biography and mathematical documentary links the personal with the scientific. For example, Swiss physicist Daniel Bernoulli, whose hydrodynamic equation led ultimately to the airplane, quit mathematics in disgust with his seemingly pointless career after his jealous father plagiarized his fluid-flow equations. Isaac Newton, whose understanding of gravitational attraction between objects made possible the landing of a human on the moon, was impelled to high achievement partly by an obsessive desire for vindication and revenge against a classroom bully. German physicist Rudolf Clausius, whose wife, Adelheid, died giving birth in 1875, saw life as an ultimately futile contest for survival; his law of entropy, or irreversible energy dissipation, explains a universe in which everything‘cells, organisms, galaxies‘eventually ages and dies. Also here are British chemist Michael Faraday, father of the electrical age, and Albert Einstein, who rued his decision to encourage Roosevelt to build atomic bombs. A wholly accessible, beautifully written exploration of the potent mathematical imagination. (Sept.)

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