Einstein A to Z by Karen C. Fox and Aries Keck

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Blog: Einstein in the News

How Einstein explored the light fantastic
Saturday, April 02, 2005

I showed last week how Isaac Newton developed laws of motion that allowed a materialist picture of the universe to emerge. This materialism was of a mechanical kind — with matter interacting like parts in a giant clockwork mechanism set into motion by god.

This view of nature began to break down from the late 18th century. A number of important discoveries — from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to new theories about the origin of the solar system — showed that nature had a history and had evolved.

And, as the industrial revolution got into full swing, new technologies, especially the steam engine, required a new understanding of physics.

Scientists saw how heat energy could be transformed into motion in the piston of a steam engine, giving a more fluid picture of nature than Newton’s vision.

They began to develop the idea that gases, and all matter, could be collections of tiny particles — and that the temperature of matter reflects the motion of these particles.
Full story from Socialist Worker Online.

posted by Einstein A to Z
Einstein A to Z * Karen C. Fox and Aries Keck
Wiley publishing * Publication date: August 2004 * ISBN: 0-471-46674-3 * $17.95 paperback * 300 pp