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ABC of Relativity (Routledge Classics) Paperback – April 9, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0415473828 ISBN-10: 0415473829 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Routledge Classics
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415473829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415473828
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970). A celebrated mathematician and logician, Russell was and remains one of the most genuinely widely read and popular philosophers of modern times.


More About the Author

Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970). Philosopher, mathematician, educational and sexual reformer, pacifist, prolific letter writer, author and columnist, Bertrand Russell was one of the most influential and widely known intellectual figures of the twentieth century. In 1950 he was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature in 1950 for his extensive contributions to world literature and for his "rationality and humanity, as a fearless champion of free speech and free thought in the West."

Customer Reviews

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Now, let's get one thing straight from the beginning: I have no intention to compare both writers.
Alexander Arsov
No one is better than Asimov at making science understandable and Russell lacks some of the necessary literary genes for expository writing.
Charles Ashbacher
I recommend this book as a "classic", but not as an introduction to relativity for the non-physicist.
Thomas Wikman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Wikman VINE VOICE on July 13, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bertrand Russel was an excellent writer, and one of the few philosophers who truly understood relativity. This book is also a classic. However, the book attempts to explain relativity to the layman using "text" only. The book is not mathematical, and it contains very few graphs or diagrams. This is not the best approach to explaining relativity. Good graphs/diagrams/images can to a certain extent replace equations. There are many modern introductory books and multimedia presentations that does a better at job at introducing relativity.
I recommend this book as a "classic", but not as an introduction to relativity for the non-physicist.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cevat Cokol on April 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
I think this book can justifiably be called ABZ of relativity. The author sincerely tries to tell us about relativity by building up from basic elements, but at the point it gets to the stuff that is supposed be really interesting, it becomes unintelligible for the less gifted. He gives three pages to tell us about the difference between mass and weight, but the central concept of "interval" is used for some pages before being poorly defined and explained. I am positively sure he understands relativity and all, and I am sure those definitions are correct in the strictest sense, however they didn't help a beginner, at least in this case. Having said this though, this book is still a very nice read and could be read even if only for its strange humor and wisecracks.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Russell's book was first published in 1925; later editors have made some changes to accommodate more recent development in Relativity theory, but Russell's illustrations and text remain as illuminating as they always were.

He points out, "A certain type of superior person is fond of asserting that 'everything is relative.' This is, of course, nonsense, because, if EVERYTHING were relative, there would be nothing for it to be relative to. However, without falling into metaphysical absurdities it is possible to maintain that everything in the physical world is relative to an observer. This view... has led philosophers and uneducated people into confusions. They imagine that the new theory proves EVERYTHING in the physical world to be relative, whereas, on the contrary, it is wholly concerned to exclude what is relative and arrive at a statement of physical laws that shall in no way depend upon the circumstances of the observer." (Pg. 16)

He observes, "Physics must... be concerned with those features which a physical process has in common for all observers... This requires that the LAWS of phenomena should be the same whether the phenomena are described as they appear to one observer or as they appear to another. This single principle is the generating motive of the whole theory of relativity." (Pg. 23)

He explains, "When people said that space had three dimensions, that meant... that three quantities were necessary in order to specify the position of a point in space, but that the method of assigning these quantities was wholly arbitrary. With regard to time, the matter was thought to be quite different... it was thought that the method of fixing position in space and the method of fixing position in time could be made wholly independent of each other...
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