Although they met only once, during New Year’s of 1927, Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, who shared the native German language, continued on a parallel journey into the inner and outer workings of life itself. Richard Panek has documented this journey in The Invisible Century, a stunning and intriguing look at how these two great minds shaped the world we live in and our perception of it.
They were men of genius: Einstein did for the field of cosmology what Freud did for psychoanalysis, both boldly going where no minds of men had gone before and achieving groundbreaking results in their respective pursuits to understand how the world works. As Einstein came up with his theory of general relativity and challenged the existing paradigm of classical physics, Freud was struggling to make his field acceptable to the scientific community, which shunned psychoanalysis as not worthy of being called a true science, simply because the analysis of a human being could not be duplicated in a lab or reduced to a mathematical equation.
Author Richard Panek, a reporter for many major magazines on science and astronomy-related subjects, truly presents the endeavors of both men in an enlightening and knowledgeable capacity, never getting too technical for the reader who is not too familiar with science or philosophy. This is an accessible book that brings together two brilliant theories, that of general relativity and that of the workings of the human unconscious, into one cohesive glimpse at how scientific understanding takes shape and becomes accepted as part of our reality.
Ultimately, the author leads us to the undeniable conclusion that the work of these two men culminated in the greatest scientific achievements of the twentieth century – the discovery of the invisible workings of both the universe and our inner minds, or the macrocosm and the microcosm of life, if you will. It is fascinating as both a book about two men of genius and as a historical peek at the way we have come to believe what it is we believe.