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Einstein’s Tutor

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13/7/2024 0:15 Review of Einstein’s Tutor on Netgalley: This anonymous reviewer has nice things to say about my book.
12/7/2024 23:48 The Next Big Idea Club’s September 2024 Must-Read Books: Einstein’s Tutor is on The Next Big Idea Club’s list of Must-Read Books for September 2024.
11/7/2024 16:07 Einstein’s Tutor to be offered by the Bookspan Book Club: It will be a main selection in Bookspan’s Library of Science and a featured alternate in their History Book Club and Military Book Club.
9/7/2024 16:26 25% off Einstein’s Tutor: Get a discount if you preorder now at the publisher’s site. Exclusions apply. Offer ends 07/17/2024.

On Emmy Noether’s birthday in 2022 I announced that I was writing a book about her and the impact of Noether’s Theorem, and that it would be available in September of 2024. I’m happy to say that all went well. PublicAffairs will bring out the hardcover and electronic versions on September 10th.

Emmy Noether

The book cover

She was a mathematical genius born into a society where women were not permitted to study or teach in universities: Germany at the turn of the 20th century. Consumed with a passion for math, she audited courses, then enrolled when the law changed to allow it, getting her PhD in 1907. She was not allowed to teach officially until the end of WWI, when she finally became a professor. Noether, a Jew, was removed from that job by the Nazis in 1933 and escaped to the United States.

Noether was one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century, remaking and inventing entire fields of mathematics. According to current research mathematicians, her methods of thinking and teaching permeate the entire discipline.

Noether’s Theorem

Noether gave crucial assistance to Albert Einstein, guiding him to the completion of his General Theory of Relativity. This led to her publication in 1918 of what we now call Noether’s Theorem. This result, relating symmetries with conservation laws, provides the modern definition of energy and explains why energy is not conserved in the universe as a whole. Many scientists describe it as the most important result in all of theoretical physics. In the same work Noether invented the concept of the gauge theory; she also created the modern formulation of representation theory. The Standard Model, the current theory of the elementary particles, is an application of these ideas. Noether’s work, therefore, provides the foundation for most of fundamental modern physics.

The Book

Einstein’s Tutor tells the story of Emmy Noether’s life, describes the role of her work in the history of science, and explains why you haven’t heard of her. It’s aimed at a general audience and contains only two tiny equations, both of which you’ve seen before.

Using original research, I describe details of Noether’s life and death that have never appeared before, and trace the passage of the ideas in her Theorem from its creation down to the present day, where it’s escaped from physics and is being applied in biology, economics, quantum computing, and more.

Einstein’s Tutor will be available on September 10th, 2024, but you can preorder it now.

More Reading

Math teacher on Emmy Noether’s erasure from math history: In 2 tweets, David Wees recounts how his abstract alegebra classes scrubbed mention of EN from history of the subject: “I took two courses on rings, fields, and algebras and never learned anything about Emmy Noether”; and a follow-up tweet: “She was erased from my the history included in my abstract algebra courses at UBC. It was all Galois & Abel.”
“Jewish Mathematics”?: This subtly written and argued essay by James Propp makes some points similar to ones in Einstein’s Tutor: notions of racial differences in styles of mathematical thought may be quaint and curious when Felix Klein expounds them, but they are deadly ideas.
Having your Pi and eating it - talking maths with Eugenia Chen: Interview with the mathematician and educator.
The Symbolic Universe: Geometry and Physics 1890-1930: “Physics was transformed between 1890 and 1930…examines the reception of Einstein’s theory of special relativity…describes Einstein’s path to formulating general relativity…provides the first detailed account of Emmy Noether’s work on physics.”
Grace Chisholm Young: gender and mathematics around 1900: Contains an interesting observation that pure mathematics may be less threatening to men than empirical sciences, and therefore a more welcoming field for women. Also notes that there were more female mathematicians, proportionally, in 1900 than in 1960.
Emmy Noether: Very good panel discussion.
Noether’s Theorem and Machine Learning: Another surprising application.
Physics from Symmetry: An interesting textbook “that derives the fundamental theories of physics from symmetry.” The author’s story and more about the book at http://physicsfromsymmetry.com/.
Arch and scaffold: How Einstein found his field equations: “In his later years, Einstein often claimed that he had obtained the field equations of general relativity by choosing the mathematically most natural candidate. His writings during the period in which he developed general relativity tell a different story.”
Noether’s Theorem and Arthur Eddington: The survival of the former in physics culture owes a debt to the latter.
Noether’s Theorem in a Nutshell: John Baez’s neat demonstration of a special case of Noether’s Theorem.
Emmy Noether and The Fabric of Reality: Youtube video of a Google Tech Talk by Ransom Stephens, author of “The God Patent”.
The Noether Theorems: ‘good and at times reads like a spy novel: “Who Knew What, and When”.’ According to a comment at https://thonyc.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/emmy-and-the-habilitation/
The Hasse - Noether Correspondence 1925 -1935: “English Translation with Extensive Commentary…Detailed comments clarify the content of the letters in their historical content…Can be used as an introduction to modern class field theory… Illustrates the evolution of mathematical concepts and structures”.
Emmy Noether: Poet of Logical Ideas: Passionate biographical essay with interesting discussion of the physics.

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