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Special Relativity (The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series) First Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0393097931
ISBN-10: 0393097935
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Product Details

  • Series: The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (August 17, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393097935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393097931
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By actsam on August 21, 2003
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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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Vahit Sametoglu on 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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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By digikat on July 16, 2002
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Self-studier of theoretical physics on 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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Special Relativity (The M.I.T. Introductory Physics Series)
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