An Einstein Encyclopedia

Alice Calaprice, Daniel Kennefick, and Robert Schulmann, eds. Princeton University Press, 2015. 347 pages. $39.95.

By Jay M. Pasachoff

Those in the know are celebrating 2015 and 2016 as the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s epochal General Theory of Relativity, with his papers given weekly in November 1915 and printed in 1915 and 1916. Three Einstein scholars—each of whom has written books and articles about Einstein, his life, and his work—have provided over 100 entries for our delectation.

The photography selection is great, too, including Einstein’s birth certificate, Nobel Prize citation, and U.S. citizenship application, as well as scattered photographs of people and places important in Einstein’s worldwide life.

An unusual feature is Appendix A, paragraph-long reviews of a wide variety of books about Einstein, with both favorable and unfavorable ratings in these editors’ evaluations. A 44-page annotated descriptive bibliography of Einstein’s published work, Appendix C, is particularly valuable.

The book is so rich in material that even the editors say that it is for browsing and not for reading through. Part I is “The Personal and Family Spheres,” including even 10 pages on Einstein’s “Romantic Interests”; Part II is “A Life in Science,” including even a discussion of colleagues alphabetically from Adler, Bohr, and Curie to Sommerfeld as well as brief discussions organized by concepts, from Action-at-a-Distance—Quantum Teleportation to Wave-Particle Duality; and Part III is “Identity and Principles,” with sections on Civil and Human Rights, Education, Jewish Identity and Ties, Organizational Ties, Political Contexts, Political Philosophy, and Religion.

There is something for everyone in this exceptionally well organized anniversary celebratory volume.

Astronomer and author Jay M. Pasachoff is the director of the Hopkins Observatory and Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College. He is a Visitor in the Carnegie Observatories. Williams College is home to the Gamma of Massachusetts Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.