Einstein’s Tutor

The Story of Emmy Noether and the Invention of Modern Physics

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By Lee Phillips

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The revelatory story of an intellectual giant who made foundational contributions to science and mathematics and persevered in the face of discrimination against women in science.

 Emmy Noether is one of the most important figures in the history of science and mathematics.

Noether’s mathematical genius enabled Einstein to bring his General Theory of Relativity, the basis of our current theory of gravity, to fruition. On a larger scale, what came to be known as “Noether’s Theorem”—called by a Nobel laureate “the single most profound result in all of physics”—supplied the basis for the most accurate theory in the history of physics, the Standard Model, which forms our modern theory of matter. Noether’s Theorem is also the tool physicists use to guide them towards the holy grail of a unified theory and is the secret weapon wielded by researchers at the cutting edge of fields as diverse as robotics, quantum computing, economics, and biology.

Noether’s life story is equally important and revelatory in understanding the pernicious nature of sexual prejudice in the sciences, revealing the shocking discrimination against one of the true intellectual giants of the twentieth century, a woman effectively excluded from the institutions, perquisites, and fame given male counterparts in the world of science. Noether’s personality and optimistic, generous spirit, as Lee Phillips reveals, enabled her unique genius to persevere and arrive at insights that still astonish those who encounter them a century later. 
 
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  • “In the first full-length biography of yet another hidden figure of science, Einstein's Tutor paints a moving portrait of the German-Jewish mathematician Emmy Noether, a woman of ‘infinite generosity [and] unstoppable optimism’—a woman who was also, as Phillips makes the case, one of the three most ingenious minds in the history of science, fully the equal of Albert Einstein and the brilliant mathematician David Hilbert. Phillips recounts the fascinating story of how Noether resolved a conundrum that Einstein created in his general theory of relativity—one that the great man himself could not unravel. Her work, known as Noether’s theorem, allowed modern science to rethink the entire framework of theoretical physics and build the modern standard model of the universe. It’s a tender story and a vital key to the yet-unfinished story of women taking their rightful places in the world of science.”
     
    Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, author of Nobel Prize Women in Science
  • “Emmy Noether has been recognized by many researchers as one of the most creative and important figures in the history of mathematics. Yet, as the New York Times once wrote, few can match Noether ‘in the depths of her perverse and unmerited obscurity.’ In this valuable book, Philips takes it upon himself to counter this chronic neglect. He successfully weaves Noether’s fascinating life story with her mathematics, along the way explaining how her celebrated theorem is nothing short of a backbone of modern physics.”
     
    Mario Livio, astrophysicist, author of Is Earth Exceptional?

On Sale
Sep 10, 2024
Page Count
368 pages
Publisher
PublicAffairs
ISBN-13
9781541702950

Lee Phillips

About the Author

After receiving his PhD in theoretical physics from Dartmouth College and completing his postdoctoral work, Lee Phillips worked for 22 years as a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory. For the past decade he has pursued a career as freelance writer, publishing widely in popular science journals.
Phillips lives in Honduras, where he writes and conducts research while studying Spanish.
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