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Relativity and Its Roots Paperback – December 23, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (December 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486406768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486406763
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,441,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Banesh Hoffmann (1906-86) received his PhD from Princeton University. At Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, he collaborated with Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld on the classic paper "Gravitational Equations and the Problem of Motion." Hoffmann taught at Queens College for more than 40 years.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joe Kolecki on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Many books attempt to expound the complexities of modern thinking in physics, but few achieve their objective as well as Hoffmann's "Relativity and its Roots." Hoffmann gives a superb overview of the history of thought in physics. He also gives vibrant descriptions of difficult concepts, leading the reader in the most natural way toward a solid understanding of Relativity theory and the foundations upon which it is built. In my opinion, this book ranks with the best of popular expositions both on the history of scientific thought in physics, and on modern physics itself. I recommend it for the non-initiated as well as for the seasoned scientist.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matt Stevensson on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Relativity and its Roots is more than an assembly of Einstein's work, it's a rich volume of scientific history leading up to his discoveries. The book starts with the early philosophical and geometrical ideas of the greeks and guides the reader up to and beyond the breakthroughs made in the middle ages. Complete with dozens of explanitory diagrams, it's one read that will change your perception of our universe.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Horvendile on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Relativity and Its Roots straddles the line between physics and history of science. It explores the development of an idea. You'd expect a book with "Relativity" in its title to concentrate on Einstein, especially as it is written by one of his colleagues. In fact Einstein does not enter the picture till the penultimate chapter. The story of Relativity starts with the Greeks and takes time to tell.

What I found most useful was Hoffmann's exploration of the thought processes of the scientists who advanced the theory. They often do not follow the standard stories of scientific discovery. Maxwell developed his theory of Electromagnetism not by thinking of mathematical symmetry but by following a mechanistic explanation of phenomena. He then removed this mechanistic scaffolding leaving us with the elegant mathematical theory. You come away from the book with new insights into both the way the universe works and the way great minds think.

Both the scientifically trained and the layman can learn from the book. It is written without equations in the main body. They can be found in the notes for those who appreciate them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve L on March 4, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some interesting information from the history of science here, but this book suffers from trying to give technical explanations of scientific laws and phenomena without having the proper space to devote to those technical explanations. Also, in many places the writing is just unclear -- I've seen a lot of these things explained a lot more clearly elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While the text covers the basic history that lead up to the theory of relativity in a manner which is understandable,the diagrams were too complicated for me to completely follow. They were explaining a variety of different experiments and did so using more scientific concepts than I understand. I am a beginner to physics and this book was too complicated. There is a lot of math which I don't have the basic understanding to follow.
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