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Special Relativity (The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series) [Paperback]

A.P. French
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Price: $30.38 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Book Description

August 17, 1968 0393097935 978-0393097931 0

The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series is the result of a program of careful study, planning, and development that began in 1960.

The education Research Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (formerly the Science Teaching Center) was established to study the process of instruction, aids thereto, and the learning process itself, with special reference to science teaching at the university level. Generous support from the National Science Foundation and from the Kettering, Shell, Victoria, W. T. Grant, and Bing Foundations provided the means for assembling and maintaining an experienced staff to cooperate with members of the Institute's Physics Department in the examination, improvement, and development of physics curriculum materials for students planning a career in the sciences.

After careful analysis of objectives and the problems involved, preliminary versions of textbooks were prepared, tested through classroom use at M.I.T. and other institutions, re-evaluated, rewritten, and tried again. Only then were the final manuscripts undertaken.

In general the books in the series will be brief. Most may be covered in a single term or less. Each will be available in either cloth or paper binding. Their brevity and structure (as well as their reasonable price) will make it possible for teachers to select topics and organize courses according to individual needs and preferences.


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Special Relativity (The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series) + Introduction to Quantum Physics (The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series) + Vibrations and Waves (The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 17, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393097935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393097931
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive treatment and historical perspective August 21, 2003
By actsam
Format:Paperback
If you are looking for the fastest way to learn and use special relativity (this is not about general relativity as the previous reviewer says), this is not the best book to use.
After an introductory chapter 1, which quickly previews much of the later material, French systematically analyzes the many observations and contradictions (the Michelson-Morley experiment just one of them), astronomical and laboratory, about the behavior of light that fitted neither an ether-wave model or a particle model. We are thus lead to a deeper appreciation for Einstein's insight and genius in his creation of the special theory of relativity; it was much more than just an extension of the Lorentz-transformations.
French is a master at his subject, and his systematic elucidation will reward the reader with a deep understanding. His problems are very well designed, and he provides answers which is always very helpful in learning.
If you have some time, and would like also to gain historical perspective about what it was like to struggle for a consistent theory in a mass of contradictory observations from the world view of Newtonian mechanics, I highly recommend this book.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple introduction to a very complicated subject July 16, 2002
By digikat
Format:Paperback
This book was extremely helpful when I was taking a class on special relativity. The author introduces new concepts and rules in a very logical order, and the examples clearly illustrate the material. The book is written very clearly, especially for such a complicated subject. The problems in the back of every chapter allow you to test yourself and make sure you have grasped the material, since some of them have answers in the back of the book. Overall, a great book to either teach special relativity to yourself, or as a companion for a special relativity class.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book you need to learn special relativity April 29, 2006
Format:Paperback
"Special relativity" is discussed in many classical mechanics, electromagnetism and quantum / modern physics textbooks. You may learn different aspects of this subject from these books.

This book is specifically designed and written for those who want to learn special relativity comprehensively from one single source.

The book starts with the basics of the theories behind special relativity with simple arguments and plain language. In the first 5 chapters, you learn the mechanical fundamentals of special relativity. The examples and end-of-chapter problems are very useful and instructive. Furthermore, the answers to all problems are given in back of the book as well, which enables you to check your answers. Starting from chapter 6, more advanced topics are introduced, like momentum, energy, basic electromagnetism and so forth. Again, the problems should be solved by students in order to gain a thorough comprehension of the subject matter. The diagrams and pictures in the book are also very helpful to understand the concepts.

The bibliography at the end of the book can be used to consult for further discussions, because special relativity has many applications in various areas of physics.

To sum up, this book, all by itself, can be used to learn and understand special relativity very well in a short period of time, because it is concise, simple, effective, pedagogically well-prepared and very suitable for self-study. You do not need any other fancy, expensive book. A.P. French does an excellent job in laying out the principles of special relativity with illustrative examples and problems. It deserves every penny you paid.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent January 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the best book on special relativity that I have ever come across. It truly teaches the reader where all the ideas from special relativity come from. The author spends incredible time trying to explain difficult ideas in a fashion that is as clear as possible. This maybe makes it lose points from the standpoint of brevity and aesthetics, but French's primary goal here is exactly what it should be: to be as clear as possible about the physical ideas. I definitely strongly recommend this superb book to any student of special relativity.

Very little prerequisites are required, just basic calculus (even single variable is sufficient). More than anything the reader needs to be willing to think through the ideas carefully and confidently. At the end of the book, the reader is rewarded by learning how the magnetic field (and corresponding magnetic field laws) has to exist as a natural consequence coulombs law and the principle of special relativity. This ties into advanced ideas on electrodynamics (and can be pursued further in an also excellent book on electrodynamics by Schwartz).

I do have a few potential criticisms of this book. The initial chapter on the history of the field is nice, but it definitely delays the reader (who is willing to take on face the experimental finding that the measurment of the speed of light is the same regardless of one's [inertial] state of motion) that is anxious to get on to SR. Another real criticism of this book is that despite its exceptional explanations of the physical insight and motivation behind SR and its key formulas, it does not nicely develop its four-dimensional formulation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice comprehensive introduction on SR for the science oriented and...
I have read several treatments on Special Relativity and like this one as it goes well beyond both the simplistic explanations of time dilation/Lorentz contraction (which can be... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Tom P
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book for an introduction
I think this is an excellent book to introduce special relativity. For a lot of books, if I could finish reading half of the book, I consider the book excellent. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Xiao Hu
2.0 out of 5 stars Completely useless for a theorist
French's relativity, much like his texts on waves and quantum mechanics, is largely useless for those who prefer mathematical rigor to long-winded experimental expositions. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Physics Student
5.0 out of 5 stars Appropriate for Freshman, yet sufficiently complete for undergraduate...
French's textbook was required reading for the junior level modern physics course for physics majors that I completed 38 years ago. Read more
Published on June 11, 2011 by Ulfilas
4.0 out of 5 stars Yep, it's a relativity textbook
This book is exactly what you think. It's a textbook about special relativity written in 1968 - fortunately exactly nothing of value has changed in the field since then (inb4... Read more
Published on September 29, 2010 by Alec Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Great
This is a wonderful book, I really enjoyed it and I recommend all of A.P French's books. Very clear writing, no confusion, it's a joy to read.
Published on April 4, 2010 by Alexander Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars review
not for self study. a very good book for those who already have a grasp of relativity and wish to further their abilities. Read more
Published on December 12, 2008 by Rick
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
This book was in good condition, and is very easy to follow. Recommended for anyone wanting to learn university level modern physics but not wanting to go cross-eyed or get lost!
Published on July 25, 2006 by Graeme Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
I purchased this classic work at MIT, circa 1972, and have referenced it too times to remember. When I bought it, the book was part of the M.I.T. INTRODUCTORY PHYSICS SERIES. Read more
Published on June 3, 2006 by G. R. Dixon
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