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Special Relativity (Springer Undergraduate Mathematics Series) Paperback – April 2, 2007

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1852334260 ISBN-10: 1852334266

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Editorial Reviews


From the reviews:

N.M.J. Woodhouse's comparatively short Special Relativity is a pleasure to read and therefore qualifies right off as a good source to use for learning about special relativity on your own. A lot of very nice material is touched on in its pages, presented in natural sequence consonant with history, and is not improperly belabored. It's also rather informal in style. One gets the sense of breezing along pretty fast while, in actuality, a lot of material is being dealt with... the selection of topics in the book is very nice indeed , and is historically sound and will therefore reward the reader with an element of culture to boot: he'll learn some history of modern physics... I wish this book had been around when I was a student.

MAA Online

...an exciting and challenging book with which to introduce a modern mathematics student in a single course to the great ideas of Maxwell's theory and special relativity.

The Australian Mathematical Society Gazette

"There are many books on special relativity for undergraduates, and this one is notable in that it is specifically addressed to mathematicians. … this book will be found illuminating by students of mathematics … ." (Dr. P. E. Hodgson, Contemporary Physics, Vol. 45 (5), 2004)

"This book is … aimed squarely at the undergraduate mathematician ... . The tone, pace and level of the book are nicely judged for middle level undergraduates studying mathematics. … There are lots of examples and nicely graded exercises throughout the text, and each chapter ends with a usefully annotated bibliography. The author’s friendly style, and the fact the material has been developed from taught courses make the book ideal for self-study … ." (Peter Macgregor, The Mathematical Gazette, Vol. 88 (512), 2004)

"Meant as a resource for advanced undergraduate students, this book approaches special relativity theory from a mathematical perspective … . It is best used for mathematics majors … . the text is clear, well written, and has an adequate bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates." (A. Spero, CHOICE, December, 2003)

"This presentation is very elegant … . The book contains a large number of examples. Each chapter is followed by exercises, ranging from the rather simple to the more involved. This book is certainly a good introduction to special relativity, understandable for second-year students. But it is also interesting for readers searching for a concise and precise presentation of special relativity within the tensor formalism." (Claude Semay, Physcalia, Vol. 25 (4), 2003)


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Product Details

  • Series: Springer Undergraduate Mathematics Series
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Springer (April 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852334266
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852334260
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on September 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book requires only a working knowledge of linear algebra and multivariate calculus, and a basic understanding of classical mechanics and electromagnetism.

The author begins by providing a simple but general mathematical exposition of relative motion in classical mechanics. The next two chapters review Maxwell's equations and what they imply for the propagation of light. Having set the stage in this way, the axioms of Einstein's theory are introduced and their implications worked out mathematically, leading the reader to a clear understanding of Minkowski four-dimensional space time and the Lorentz transformation. The exposition is accompanied by a number of classic brainteasers in special relativity.

The weak spot (and hence only four stars) is the treatment of the mass-energy equivalence, which does not include a rigorous derivation of Einstein's famous formula E=mc^2, even though such a derivation is no more demanding mathematically or conceptually than the other issues discussed in the book.

In sum, this book should appeal to any mathematically literate non-physicist who wants more than just a superficial introduction of Einstein's special relativity.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jim Curry on January 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a splendid and very carefully prepared book. It gives very clear and concise explanations of the physical content of the special theory of relativity, and it puts those explanations together directly with the simplest correct mathematical descriptions. It makes the subject as simple as possible---but not simpler. The explanation is clear, and the problems are particularly well chosen and insightful. It is a way to establish a true and complete understanding of the subject as quickly as is reasonably possible. In my opinion, it is the best available introduction and the only book that is really "best choice" for a first course in the subject or as the primary text for self-study.

Not everyone has the same taste. Some people would like to study the subject with as much mathematics being forgiven as possible. Those people will want T. M. Helliwell's book "Special Relativity" instead. Most books that try to avoid almost all the mathematics end up avoiding almost everything interesting and sometimes give the wrong impression, at least in some details. Helliwell is distinguished among the "math lite" approaches.

An alternative textbook introduction is A.P. French "Special Relativity," intended for M.I.T. freshmen. Taylor and Wheeler offer "Spacetime Physics," roughly a more "Caltech like" or "Princeton like" approach. Wolfgang Rindler offers "Introduction to Special Relativity." Both French and Taylor/Wheeler are a little bit simpler, yet thorough introductions, and it is likely that most students would want one or the other as a supplementary text, especially if the goal is pure self-study. Taylor/Wheeler is more colorfully phrased.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By gengogakusha on December 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
that does not shirk physics motivation. Prof. Woodhouse's goal is to provide a mathematically rigorous understanding of the key conceptual structures underlying special relativity (but eschewing tensors). To this end, he avoids becoming bogged down in detailed discussions of measuring rods and clocks, light signals, tedious calculations using Lorentz transformations, or long-winded analyses of various so-called paradoxes that are standard fare in some other textbooks (indeed, "paradox" is discussed only once in the book: on p.114 where he dispenses with the so-called Twin Paradox in one short paragraph at the end of section 6.5 [Constant Acceleration]). After an introductory chapter [Relativity in Classical Mechanics] to set the stage, he launches, in chapter 2 [Maxwell's Equations] and chapter 3 [The Propagation of Light] into a wonderfully clear, extended exposition of Maxwell's equations and their implications. These two chapters -- excluding the optional final chapter, about 30 pages out of roughly 150 pages -- make the heaviest demands on the reader (at least they did on this reader).

His treatment of Maxwell's equations in chapter 2 is superb. He starts from The Principle of Relativity (p. 21) and three assumptions specific to electromagnetism (pp. 23-24, accessible via Search Inside) and shows, in a step by step fashion with adequate commentary, how to derive Maxwell's Equations, all in a mathematically rigorous but reader friendly style (no difficult steps in the reasoning are omitted). In chapter 3, he draws out key consequences of Maxwell's theory, discussing in detail the all important source-free equations and the prediction of source-free electromagnetic waves. My background in electromagnetism was quite weak, and so I found these two chapters particularly enlightening.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tonantzin on April 17, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good book to learn the operational method to construct SR.
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Special Relativity (Springer Undergraduate Mathematics Series)
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