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Inside Relativity Revised ed. Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691025209
ISBN-10: 0691025207
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this short book a physicist and a professor of literature attempt to explain Einstein's theories of relativity, both special and general, for the educated layperson. Mathematics and physics background are kept to a minimum. In addition to the main body of the text, there is an appendix of almost 100 pages describing the theory more fully but still without any advanced technical details. The authors use simplified examples and diagrams to help the reader understand the essence of the theory. Nevertheless, the concepts are counter-intuitive and not easy to grasp. A good book about a difficult topic for someone willing to put out some effort. Harold D. Shane, Dept. of Mathematics, Baruch Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"In a remarkable and unusual collaboration [Mook and Vargish] offer us Inside Relativity.... Happily, for all its seriousness of intent, Mook and Vargish's book has a refreshing lightness, imparting at once an air of easy reading (it is very well written) and a momentum that propels one from opening enigma to closing coda.... The pseudo-paradoxes and quasi-conundrums of the theory are delightfully illustrated."--Lane Hughston, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"This outstanding book provides an excellent exposition on relativity with virtually no mathematics. Both special and general relativity are disclosed along with some information on the contributors and their personalities.... The book is well suited to nonscience majors. Nevertheless, a science major would also benefit from reading it because of its beautiful development of basic concepts."--David Fink, Science Books & Films
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised ed. edition (March 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691025207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691025209
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,366,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By taogoat on December 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently read a handful of books on relativity, and I rank them as follows:

Highly recommended introductory works:
* Relativity Simply Explained by Martin Gardner -- best introductory book.
* The Elegant Universe (chapters 2 & 3) by Brian Greene -- extremely lucid, but not as in-depth as Gardner's book -- possibly the best if you want a shorter introduction.
* Einstein by Walter Isaacson, chapter 6 (special relativity) & chapter 9 (general relativity) -- not just a great biography, also a very lucid explanation of Einstein's ideas.
* The Fabric of the Cosmos (chapters 2 & 3) by Brian Greene -- a discussion of general relativity & the nature of spacetime.

Further reading:
* Inside Relativity by Mook & Vargish -- discussed below
* Relativity Visualized by Lewis Carroll Epstein -- a good additional book to read, if you want to delve more into truly understanding how it works. Not recommended as an introduction.
* Relativity: A Very Short Introduction by Russell Stannard -- might be a good introduction, but not as lucid as some of the books above.
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I am reading this book as part of the required/recommended reading for Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists course by The Teaching Company. I find that this book is easy to follow, the examples and illustrations are quite good. It also does well serving mathematics "on the side", if you want it. It has helped my understanding of classical physics concepts and will help me with modern physics as I continue reading, I'm sure.

P.S. If you're taking this Teaching Company course, I would suggest reading all the required and recommended material to get the most out of the course.
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There are hundreds of books that claim to simplify the theory of relativity for the general public. "Inside Relativity" is among the few that actually achieve this goal without loosing the beauty of Einstein's theories. The strength of the book comes from the structure as well as its cogent language. Many others fail to set the context for Einstein's entrance into the scientific scene but Mook & Vargish do this quite masterfully. There are many valuable references sprinkled throughout the book. I did consult few of them before finishing the book and that may have biased my opinion. This book should be on your bookshlef even if you think you know what Relativity is all about.
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This book is an OUTSTANDING expose of Einstein's Special and General theories of Relativity. It explains by way of analogy (which relativity lends itself to) in a way that is extremely accesable while remaining very informative. The book helps clearly underscore many of the fascinating consequences of Einstein's theory.
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