In Galison's telling of science, the meters and wires and epoxy and solder come alive as characters, along with physicists, engineers, technicians and others Galison has unearthed fascinating material" New York Times. Clocks and trains, telegraphs and colonial conquest: the challenges of the late nineteenth century were an indispensable real-world background to the enormous theoretical breakthrough of relativity. Each found that to understand the newly global world, he had to determine whether there existed a pure time in which simultaneity was absolute or whether time was relative. Esteemed historian of science Peter Galison has culled new information from rarely seen photographs, forgotten patents, and unexplored archives to tell the fascinating story of two scientists whose concrete, professional preoccupations engaged them in a silent race toward a theory that would conquer the empire of time.
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Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps: Empires of Time
Time Travel. The clocks of the book's title occupy key positions both in Einstein's relativity thought experiments and in his street scene. Galison imagines that Einstein sees clocks at the train station, on his route from home to work, all around him in Bern, a clock-conscious city in a country passionate about watches. Readers hoping to learn about turn-of-the-century electrically synchronized clocks and their repeated failure, by the way, will be disappointed. The book claims that such clocks were an important part of the landscape, but engages with their technical and social history only lightly.
He was, instead, engaged in practical concerns aimed at furthering the ends of the French empire. Early in his career he was an expert mining engineer. Later he headed the Bureau des Longitudes, where he focused on matters of earthly time and space.
They are the material results of the bureau's scientific cartography that helped claim and maintain distant colonies and synchronized them with the mother country. Galison offers an original and provocative interpretation of the route to relativity in an extended account of international time reform at the turn of the twentieth century. Time reformers in Europe and North America coordinated their efforts to introduce global time zones and synchronize the world with time signals sent telegraphically and by radio.
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