Part 3—Ninety-one years later:
"Mama tried," the late Merle Haggard once said.

So did Walter Isaacson.

"I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole," the Bakersfield country star later recalled, in a moment of introspection. "No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried."

Things turned out better for Isaacson, if not for readers of Time magazine, which Isaacson headed during the years when the famous journal, which was still influential, kept attributing lies and psychiatric infirmities to a certain White House contender.

Candidate Bush ended up in the White House; in a related development, people are dead all over Iraq. Presumably, Isaacson's professors once tried, but it seems that they too may have failed.

Whatever! We're not here to quibble about trivial piddle like that. In 2007, Isaacson—a very clear writer—published Einstein: His Life and Universe, a best-selling biography of Albert Einstein, one of human history's great intellectual giants.

In Chapter Six, Isaacson accepted a difficult challenge. He tried to explain the special theory of relativity, which Einstein brought forward in 1905 (his "miracle year"), when he was just 26.

When Isaacson's book appeared, it had been ninety-one years since Einstein tried to explain this same material in his own 1916 book, Relativity: The Special and The General Theory. To peruse Einstein's book, click here.

Einstein's book, which was very brief, was aimed at general readers. In chapters 8 and 9 of that book, Einstein described a hypothetical situation with which he tried to explain the special theory.

Ninety-one years later, Isaacson also tried to explain this "thought experiment." Yesterday, in Part 2 of this report, we showed you the way he introduced his effort.

Starting today, we'll continue on, hoping to discover what happened when Isaacson tried.

Last November, Nova tried to explain this same material. It did so around the ten-minute mark of its hour-long broadcast, Inside Einstein's Mind.

As we noted in Part 1 of this report, we'd have to say that Nova failed. What happened when Isaacson tried?

First, a quick review. In the material we showed you yesterday, Isaacson starts by citing a "eureka moment," a burst of insight which led Einstein to special relativity. Within five weeks, Isaacson says, Einstein had "sent off his most famous paper, 'On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,'" the scientific paper in which he introduced special relativity.

We're on page 123 of Isaacson's book when he describes these events. As we left off yesterday, Isaacson was on the verge of describing the famous "thought experiment" associated with Einstein's theory.

It's the same thought experiment which Nova tried to explain in last November's broadcast. It involves a fast-moving train and a pair of lightning strikes.

By page 124, Isaacson uses the word "revolutionary" to describe the fruit of this thought experiment. He says the insight Einstein gleaned from this rumination "did in fact transform science."

By page 128, he is referring to the "astonishing conclusion" which emerged from Einstein's thought experiment. Eight years later, Nova went down a similar path, describing Einstein's conclusion as "mind-blowing."

We're not telling you that any of that is "wrong." Instead, we're asking you a question:

Was Isaacson able to explain the famous thought experiment associated with Einstein's eureka moment?

Can he explain the "astonishing conclusion" which emerged from that thought experiment? The story here is familiar and gripping. How well was Isaacson able to elucidate the science?

We're going to say that he tried and failed. As a long string of professors have proven, explaining Einstein is hard.

That said, we've decided to wait another day before perusing Isaacson's text. Here's why:

When we look at Isaacson's text, we'll be visiting the "culture of incoherence" we've mentioned in recent weeks. Over the past many years, this disabling culture has gripped our Einstein-made-easy books and the silly reports we receive from big journals like Time.

Explaining Einstein turns out to be hard. But then, so is almost every task for the certified intellectual giants who people our academy and our mainstream news business.

Until the science hits the fan, Isaacson is a very clear writer. We're sure he's also a very nice person, though that didn't stop his journalists from publishing all that death-dealing, low-IQ crap when he was kingpin at Time.

We the liberals all agreed not to notice, speak up or complain. Tomorrow, we'll see how things went in 2007, when Isaacson tried something much harder.

Unlike a certain "rebel child," Isaacson went to Harvard, then became a Rhodes scholar. As history tells us, that's almost never a good combination!

What happened when Isaacson tried?

Tomorrow: What it says on page 123, then on to page 124


  1. Regarding Time magazine, the editors always had a conservative, and sometimes Puritanical, bent. I remember two cover stories from the '80s. One was "The new scarlet letter: H," H indicating herpes. The other stated that "the sexual revolution is over," and that it did not amount to much anyway.

    1. By mutual agreement, no liberals spoke up or complained, but continued to pleasure themselves while looking at big journals with more explicit photographic content than Time.

      In a related development the crime and incarceration rates continued to soar.

    2. Actually, once the incarceration rate started to soar, the crime rate plummeted. That's because fewer criminals were loose.

    3. Actually (really, not actually like DinC uses it), the crime rate began falling three years before the Bill was enacted.

    4. Actually there were no references in this Comment Box to any crime legislation whatsoever. But if it is any solace to you, the incarceration rate peaked two years after the Bill was impeached.

  2. Today Huffpost is reporting that Hillary Clinton single-handedly "ruined" Haiti. As if there were no problems there before 2008 and as if Obama were not President. Nothing similarly negative about Bernie, although you perhaps have to have done something in order for it to be misrepresented.

    1. Reading Huffpost is a waste of time.
      I'm more afraid she'll sell me down the river for political expediency, like the old man did.

    2. Gee, I missed that. Perhaps you could give us all a link.

    3. I always start my HuffPo with what
      Arianna is working on. Usually I am napping before I get to the Blame Hillary section. And when I awaken I feel a strong need to bond with my daughter.

    4. I have no intention of linking to Huffpost. The exact headline is "How Hillary Clinton's State Department Ruined Haiti." Look harder if you really need to read it. But you might all go to the Clinton Foundation website and read what they have done to help Haiti -- for a little balance.

    5. Well, @ 2:23/3:15 Huf Po is reporting no such thing. They are reprinting what Daily Beast reported yesterday. Here is the link:

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  4. Our little Bob is sixty eight years old, and quite the bitter man.

    So we spell out the names of those he really just can't stand.

    Like R-A-C-H-E-L or D-O-W-D.
    But the names we're hiding from him now
    make him moan, spit, curse, and pee.

    We were going to spell the name but first a quick review.

    We are not saying Bob is wrong, or that we reflexively hate C&W tunes because they remind us of the Other Tribe so predominant way down south in racist Dixie. We are not telling you country lyrics are bad or Bob's fans are wrong.

    Can country lyrics really explain what happens when science hits Bob's simpleton's fans? The story here is about a grumpy dude slipping and gripping.

    Or is it sniping and griping? Whatever.

    That said, we've decided to wait another day before perusing our chorus and lyrics. Here's why. Explaining Somerby turns out to be sad. He knows more than everyone who also went to Harvard but went on to earn more degrees and yet he achieved almost no success. As history tells us, that's a bitter pill to swallow. Plus it involves the whole Al Gore thing and tripping over all those dead Iraqi's.

  5. Uncle!!! Uncle!!!

    Yes, if you watched the part in the Nova piece about the lighting bolts and the train, you could not be expected to understand how this is a big deal. They don't explain it with enough information (i.e. what would all people and scientists before Einstein expect to happen versus what Einstein deduced would happen assuming the physics is the same whether or not something is moving (at constant speed) AND that the speed of light is constant whether or not the source or observer is moving).

    It appears that Isaacson also doesn't explain it.
    Einstein's book does explain it better, but it could be clearer.

    Yes, reviewer comments on the book jacket may be misleading as to how easy it makes Einstein. Its advertising!!!

    Please move on to the point.

    PS I do enjoy many of the your posts, and it has been an eye opener to media bias/narratives etc.

    1. Quit apologizing for the silence of the liberals which got so many killed.

    2. Not just constant speed. Constant velocity.

      And it's true, Einstein said the speed of light is constant. It's better to say the speed of light is invariant. It's not that light doesn't speed up and slow down, though that's true. The real point is that the speed of light is unchanged by a Lorentz transformation.

  6. That said, we've decided to wait another day before perusing Isaacson's text. Here's why:

    Because you're the slowest boy on the slowest train imaginable?

  7. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: