E=MC Squared Biography - by David Bodanis

This image depicts the book cover of E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation, by David Bodanis.

Intended to help people who are not professional physicists understand the impact of Einstein's ideas-in-action, this work uses layman's terms to explain the power of Einstein's thought experiments.

Google Books uses these words to describe this teaching tool:

When E=mc2 was born in 1905 Albert Einstein was unsure of what he had accomplished. In fact, he had done nothing less than open the door to the inner structure of the universe.

In this brilliant and accessible book, David Bodanis illuminates one of science’s most complex concepts. Ranging widely from Exit signs in theatres to the future fate of the earth, and presenting colourful portraits of the scientists behind the discoveries, Bodanis delivers a scintillating account of the real meaning of E=mc2. 

Bodanis uses understandable words to explain sophisticated concepts. Mass ("M" in the famous equation) is:

...simply the ultimate type of condensed or concentrated energy

while energy ("E" in the equation) is:

...what billows out as an alternate form of mass under the right circumstances.

Tying the story together is not just Einstein—whose brilliance allowed him to think about the universe in a most unusual way—but also other scientists who contributed their own breakthrough thinking (such as James Clerk Maxwell, Michael Faraday and Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier). Of Maxwell, Einstein said:

The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell's equations of the electromagnetic field


Since Maxwell's time, physical reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.

Ten years after Einstein published his paper on Special Relativity, he published another profoundly important work. This time, he expanded his thought experiments to include a totally new understanding of space, time and gravity. He called this concept his General Theory of Relativity.

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy amazon.com website.


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