Published in the UK (Little Brown), US (Houghton Mifflin & Harcourt), Brazil (Companhia das Letras) Germany (C.H.Beck), Holland (Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennep), Spain (Anagrama), Italy (Rizzoli), Greece (P. Travlos), Portugal (Presença), Poland (Proszynski Media), China (Hunan Science & Technology Press), Japan (NHK), Korea (Kachi Publishing), Taiwan (Commonwealth) Finland (Terra Incognita) and Russia.


Read an excerpt at Salon or listen to podcasts at Nature or at the Guardian

Comments and Reviews



You couldn't ask for a better guide to the outer reaches of the universe and the inner workings of the minds of those who've navigated it” — Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford and author of The Music of the Primes


Einstein's beautiful theory is almost a century old, and its ramifications have stimulated a crescendo of discovery ever since. It is now, more than ever, one of the liveliest frontiers of science. Pedro G. Ferreira describes, accessibly and non-technically, how the key breakthroughs have been made, and the personalities who made them. Even readers with zero scientific background will enjoy this finely written survey of one of the greatest of recent scientific endeavours, and get a real feel for the social and human aspects of science” — Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal


This is a fascinating introduction to our present understanding of space, time, and gravity, and to the confusion about how to go about finding a still better theory. Ferreira tells the story without equations or graphs, just well-chosen words about the science and how it grew. I particularly recommend the sketches of scientists in all their curious variety of character traits” — James E. Peebles, Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Emeritus. Professor of Physics, Emeritus


Although Einstein’s general theory of relativity was undoubtedly the greatest of his many fundamental contributions to physics, it was comparatively little studied by physicists during his lifetime. However, after his death in 1955, the subject blossomed, particularly in the 1960s, leading to an excellent understanding of black holes, gravitational lensing, gravitational waves, and their profound implications for current cosmology and astrophysics. Surprisingly little has been written about the history of this post-Einstein period until now, so Pedro Ferreira’s The Perfect Theory it is especially welcome. It provides us with an enthralling account of the ideas and personalities of those who were involved.” — Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College


Einstein's general relativity is a theory of unrivaled elegance and simplicity. But the history of general relativity is messy, unpredictable, and occasionally dramatic. Pedro G. Ferreira is an expert guide to the twists and turns scientists have gone through in a quest to understand space and time “— Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe


“The Perfect Theory is a rollicking good read. We watch as Einstein's brilliant successors struggle and squabble about everything from black holes to quantum gravity. With crisp explanations and narrative flair, Ferreira offers us a fun, fresh take on a magnificent part of modern science” — Steven Strogatz, Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, and author of The Joy of x


Pedro G. Ferreira portrays a community ensnared by a single great idea. His telling is incredibly thorough while still beautiful, deeply considered and affecting. With vivid detail, he brings to life the awesome story of one of humanity's greatest achievements” — Janna Levin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College, Columbia University and author of How the Universe Got Its Spots


With palpable delight, Ferreira details false starts, chance discoveries, and the vindication of long-ridiculed ideas that emerged from the work that predicted singularities, M-theory, and dark energy . . . Ferreira's clear explanations offer a wonderful look into a world of those who tackle the hard math that is "the key to understanding the history of the universe, the origin of time, and the evolution of . . . the cosmos." — Publishers Weekly


No book better prepares armchair physicists for the intellectual excitement ahead!” — Booklist


One of the best popular accounts of how Einstein and his followers have been trying to explain the universe for decades” — Kirkus Reviews


Pedro G. Ferreira offers an accessible history of Einstein's theory of relativity in The Perfect Theory.” — Irish Times, Highlights of 2014 - Arminta Wallace


Ferreira lucidly sketches several attempts to generalize Einstein’s theory, including string theory, which both describes gravity and offers an explanation of why it exists. Although enormously promising and mathematically rich, string theory is unpopular among some physicists in part because of the extreme difficulty of putting it to test, at least in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, good old general relativity — once regarded as too recondite to be worth studying — is now the framework for planning and interpreting many astronomical experiments, as Ferreira describes in a moving coda.”- Graham Farmelo, Nature


The Perfect Theory is a good title for the book, with GR remaining our best example of a beautiful, powerful fundamental physical theory, based on the deepest mathematical ideas, with almost no free parameters. Ferreira does a great job of leading readers through the story so far of this amazing theory.”- Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong (Blog).


Ferreira has a writer’s sense for when he’s getting a bit too technical ... and always leavens the science with intriguing glimpses at the underlying psychological and sociological forces driving scientific progress.” - Jesse Singal, Boston Globe.


“... it's been a heck of a century for relativity, and "The Perfect Theory" is a perfect guide for this most beloved branch of modern physics.” - Sam Kean, Wall Street Journal.


In The Perfect Theory, Ferreira masterfully portrays the science and scientists behind general relativity's star-crossed history and argues that even now we are only just beginning to realize its vitality as a tool for understanding the cosmos.” - Lee Billings, Scientific American.


Prof Ferreira is an outstanding storyteller, and the tales here reveal more about how science really works than any number of textbooks.”- BBC Focus Magazine.