|Copies available at UW-Madison|
From the September/October 2007 new books list:
Kennefick, Daniel. Traveling at the speed of thought: Einstein and the quest for gravitational waves. Princeton, 2007.
Kennefick (Univ. of Arkansas) is the right author at the right time. He has strong connections to research in this area as well as being a historian and a very good storyteller. With the current research underway at Cal Tech's Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory, which may soon detect these waves, this is also a well-timed publication. Written for nonscientists, it tells the interesting story behind the development of gravitational wave theory. Though the subtitle mentions Einstein, this is a book about the many scientists who have struggled in this area. Kennefick not only explains the modern theory, he traces the theory's development with its controversies and personality conflicts, showing how difficult and uncertain scientific work can be. After giving a background on the history of gravitational theory before Einstein, the author explains how general relativity leads to the prediction of gravitational waves. This is done by tracing the theoretical controversies and detailing the problems with experimental detection. An impressive book, in that Kennefick thoroughly covers the material and still keeps it at a level that should be accessible to all readers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels.
--E. Kincanon, Gonzaga University (From Choice Reviews, September 2007; vol 45, no. 1.)