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The Meaning of Relativity Fifth edition with a New introduction by Brian Greene Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691023526
ISBN-10: 0691023522
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In 1921, a young Albert Einstein traveled to America to give four lectures at Princeton University, paving the way for a more complete acceptance of his theory of general relativity. These lectures are published together as The Meaning of Relativity, and were revised with each new edition until Einstein's death. Despite Einstein's profession that he thought without using words, his examples and descriptions of the relativistic world he perceived are clear and easy to follow. Unfortunately for nontechnical readers, his presentation requires deep diversions into mathematics often enough to break up the flow of his narrative, and they may find this rough terrain. But for the mathematically sophisticated or the devoted scientific historian, these lectures are profoundly illuminating--Einstein's bright, quiet genius shines through in the simplicity and economy of his writing. Two appendices follow the lectures: the first covers advances and experimental verifications after 1921; the second, "Relativistic Theory of the Non-Symmetric Field," was Einstein's last scientific paper. The Meaning of Relativity documents a revolution in progress and yields to the careful student deeper truths than those found in physics textbooks. --Rob Lightner


"A condensed unified presentation intended for one who has already gone through a standard text and digested the mechanics of tensor theory and the physical basis of relativity. Einstein's little book then serves as an excellent tying-together of loose ends and as a broad survey of the subject."--Physics Today

Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Science Library
  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Fifth edition with a New introduction by Brian Greene edition (November 1, 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691023522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691023526
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,791,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was born in Germany and became an American citizen in 1940. A world-famous theoretical physicist, he was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics and is renowned for his Theory of Relativity. In addition to his scientific work, Einstein was an influential humanist who spoke widely about politics, ethics, and social causes. After leaving Europe, Einstein taught at Princeton University. His theories were instrumental in shaping the atomic age.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are numerous books on general relativity currently on the market, and these range in difficulty from those written for the beginner or the layman, those written for graduate students in physics, and research monographs covering specialized topics. It is always refreshing to go back to the originator of the subject, and take part in his special insights on the topic. Philosophers and historians of science can definitely benefit from a perusal of this book.
The author begins this book with a discussion of the origin of the concepts of space-time, the emphasis being partly philosophical and partly psychological, and the reader can see the origin of the author's operationalism in reading this introduction. He is clearly against the philosophers who attempt to remove concepts from experience and put them in his words "in the intangible heights of the a priori". The motion of rigid bodies is used to set up a discussion of Euclidean geometry and linear orthogonal transformations. The author emphasizes the role of the physicist in discerning whether a system of geometry is true or not, contrary to the pure mathematician. Examples of geometrical invariants, such as the Cartesian line element and the volume element are discussed, along with the role of vectors and tensors. Both of these are used as means by which one can give expression to the independence of Cartesian coordinates. Maxwell's equations are put in tensor notation as an example of covariance with respect to Cartesian coordinate transformations. All of this is done to motivate the theories of special and general relativity.
The theory of spectial relativity is treated in chapter 2, the author introducing his famous principle of special relativity.
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Format: Paperback
Laymen, such as myself, are familiar with the equation e=mc2; yet how many of us non-scientists actually know what this means? Einstein explains this in a series of four lectures. While the explaination is clear, the mathematics behind it (and the implications of relativity theory) are far from easy for the layperson to understand.

The first section on space and time in pre-relativity physics provides the foundation for exactly why his theories are so revolutionary. I was able to digest this without much difficulty. The real challenges (for me at least) began with his explaination of special and general relativity - that space, time and light are dependent on each other, and in fact are (hence the name) all relative ... a real mind-bender. Sadly, I was unable to make it through the second half of the lecture on general relativity - too abstract for one who is not a scientist by training or vocation.

Nonetheless it is a worthwhile (if difficult) read. For those who are weak in mathematics (Euclidian geometry or below) much of the details will be incomprehensable; don't let this dissuade you - part of the genius of Einstein is his ability to explain what the mathematics proves. A seminal work in science, and highly recommended for those with the patience, training or deeply committed interest in the subject.
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Format: Paperback
The first half (special relativity) is an exelent resource for beginners on relativity who heve a confident handle of real variable and vector differetial calculus. The seconth half is an introductory text on Generla Relativity which is good. For this part is necesary to have also handle of differential geometry, and I recomend you to read before the article "Space and Time" by H. Minkowski in which some how the conection between the mathematical background (diff. geom.) and the physical theory is set. --- Enrique Castro Student of Physics (National University of México)---
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Format: Paperback
The Meaning of Relativity is an advanced book. The title should have made it clear. Einstein delves here into what his theory
actually MEANS. That is, what must we change (if anything...) in our world conception, in the way we think, as a consequence of his immense discovery. Just think that he meddled with time, a concept static since so long that it is registered deep in our DNA: our concept of time goes back to the epoch where our main purpose was to survive the day
(sounds familiar? No, no, it was different! It was permanent. What you experience now is transient...)
So what? Read it! It is a marvellous book. Perhaps you will have to reach for other, more elementary, books, in this enterprise. All right! That almost characterizes a book worth reading. So... go on! It will repay your efforts. It IS doable. You will come out, for instance, with a precise CONSTRUCTION OF SPACE! Your brains will be enriched.You deserve that!
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Format: Paperback
This is not a plain English explanation of relativity to the layman. (For that, check out "Relativity: The Special and the General Theory") It is a short and sweet summary of the thinking behind and derivation of relativity in a little over 100 short pages. The target audience is physicists and mathematicians. Actually, it is probably best if you have studied relativity and differential geometry in a textbook first before tackling this one. I don't think you can learn the basics of relativity or differential geometry from this book if it's your first encounter with the subjects.

However, if you have the mathematical maturity, you will really find the "essence" of relativity in this book. As the originator of the relativity theory, Einstein can explain it like no other. After his explanation, you will wonder why no one else thought about it in this fashion, as he shows you why physics has to work this way. The key philosophical underpinnings are: (a) invariance of physics under coordinate transformations, as physical laws have to be the same no matter where/when the observations are made; and the Euclidean coordinate transformation as an simple result from classical geometry.
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