A Gentle Wizard


Young Adult - Non-Fiction
150 Pages
Reviewed on 04/17/2017
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Author Biography

I am an "expert" on Einstein’s theory of relativity and related astrophysics. My day job involves the many extremes of our wonderful universe; black holes, neutron stars and gravitational waves.

I have learned (the hard way) that the devil is often lurking in the detail and that it is important to (try to) figure out exactly how things work. At the same time I like a good story. Especially the kind of story that explains how things are, even though the story itself may not be entirely true.

This particular story may be a bit unusual.

It started as a vague idea. I thought it would be nice to write something to celebrate the 100th birthday of Einstein’s theory of gravity. This might not make sense to most people – you don’t just wake up one morning thinking this would be a great plan – but if you have spent nearly three decades working on problems involving the famous professor’s brainchild, your mind might be just a little bit warped.
Anyway, as soon as I started thinking about it I realised it was going to be tricky.

Eventually, Einstein himself provided the inspiration. He once wrote in the foreword of one of his countless biographies; “What has perhaps been overlooked is the irrational, the inconsistent, the droll, even the insane, which nature, inexhaustive- ly operative, implants in a individual, seemingly for her own amusement.”

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ann Neville for Readers' Favorite

A Gentle Wizard was written by Nils Andersson, an expert on Einstein's theory of relativity and related astrophysics, to celebrate the 100th birthday of Einstein's theory of gravity. The narrative is written from the perspective of a young boy whose chance encounter with Einstein led to a life-long friendship. While a blend of fact and fiction, all the science is real, as are the characters of Einstein, his assistant Helen Dukas, and colleagues Robert Oppenheimer and John Wheeler. Nils Andersson gives readers an insight into Einstein's life from when he was a young man in Bern through to his death. But it doesn't stop there. Andersson continues the story after Einstein's death, detailing the cataloging of Einstein's notes and correspondence by Helen Dukas, and the subsequent continued ratification of his theories. While Jack and his family are fictional characters, the events he describes did happen, though not necessarily in the order as depicted.

Because A Gentle Wizard is told from the perspective of the young boy, Jack, readers are given the opportunity to explore these mysteries in an easier to understand format - something difficult to do given the complexity of the theories. Readers discover the thinking behind black holes, the big bang theory, and changes in space and time caused by space warping. I found the sections around the speeding up and slowing down of time particularly fascinating. Another strength of the book is that, while it answers many questions, it also sets the reader's mind thinking about the wonders of our world. It also gives an appreciation of the time, effort and commitment that Einstein, and others like him, invested in exploring these mysteries. If a reader is looking for a thought-provoking book that takes him/her to the edge of reality, where clocks grind to a halt and stars collapse into themselves to form holes that aren't quite holes, I recommend A Gentle Wizard by Nils Andersson.