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Understanding Einstein's Theories of Relativity: Man's New Perspective on the Cosmos Paperback – April 1, 1991


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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"The style is very clear and concise, and the treatment is authoritative throughout." — Choice
Relativity remains a topic of crucial interest for scientists grappling with its implications for physics, astronomy, cosmology, and other disciplines. Laymen, too, are fascinated by relativity theory, which overturned the classical order of Newtonian physics and postulated ideas about space and time that often seem to contradict common sense.
The present work is a very clear, concise, and authoritative exposition of both the special and general theories of relativity. Intended for nonscientific readers with a knowledge of high school math, the book offers illuminating coverage of such topics as the speed of light, simultaneity, time distortion of space and mass, journeys to the stars, dimension and hyperspace, the theory of general relativity, anomalies in space, and the structure and evolution of the universe.
Readers with an inquisitive bent for cosmic affairs will enjoy this mind-stretching journey into the mysteries and majesty of the physical universe, where they'll share the author's explanations and speculations about why the speed of light is the speed of time, whether it may be possible to travel backward in time, how black holes are formed, how it is possible that space is curved, and much more. For anyone curious about the nature of the universe and how relativity theory continues to help scientists unlock its secrets, this accessible popular treatment is an invaluable companion and guide.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (April 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486266591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486266596
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,033,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Welcome to my Amazon Home Page! Thanks for your interest in my work. I maintain a Web site at sciencewriter.net for computers and sciencewriter.net/tablets for tablets, wireless e-book readers, and smartphones. On both sites, I offer explanations for the chapter-ending quiz answers in some of my books. Please follow the "Quiz Explanations" links. You can also view videos that explain the answers to the final exam questions in the fifth edition of "Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics" and the second editions of "Alternative Energy Demystified," "Electricity Demystified," "Electronics Demystified," "Everyday Math Demystified," "Geometry Demystified," "Trigonometry Demystified," and "Physics Demystified." Please follow the "Exam Videos" link on the applicable "Quiz Explanations" table-of-contents page.

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Metallurgist TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
OK, I admit it - I violated my own rule and bought this book without checking the Amazon reviews first. It was available locally at a good discount, looked interesting (based largely on the figures and a quick skimming of some of the text), and being a Dover reprint I was willing to overlook the fact that nowhere in the book was there anything about the qualification of the author to write a book on Relativity. Dover generally reprints classic scientific texts - written by those who are eminently qualified in the subject matter of the book. Unfortunately, in the case of this book Dover let me down. According to the Web information that I was able to find, the author is a professional writer, perhaps an electrical engineer - some of his previous books have been on that subject. He is does not appear to be a theoretical physicist, or perhaps even a physicist of any kind and his grasp of Relativity Theory appears to be, putting it charitably, unique at best.

I have previously read 4 of the 9 books listed in the suggested readings and I have also read most of the general treatments of Special Relativity, so I have a general familiarity with the subject. On this basis I cannot recommend this book. The author has tried to present a general treatment of Relativity and its implications for cosmology and space travel in a way that he found understandable. Unfortunately, many of his interpretations are just plain wrong, leading me to believe that he does not understand the basic ideas of special relativity. For instance, Gibilisco states (on p49) -"Time distortions may be caused by the acceleration that occurs because of "pushing" on such a space ship and it can also be caused by gravitational fields.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Francisco Carrera on March 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have owned this book since 1984, when I purchased the original edition from TAB Books. I found the approach unique, apparently written from a mathematician's point of view. But I was led to wonder about the accuracy of some of the material in the book, particularly of thought experiments that cannot be done in real life and which therefore cannot be positively verified or denied experimentally. For example, who is going to put clocks all over the solar system and then go to every planet to check their readings? But then, other books do the same thing, for example, asking the reader to imagine riding on a train travelling at eighty percent of the speed of light.
After looking at various mentions of this title around the Web (as a phrase in Google advanced search), I have found mostly positive comments, including one from a mathematician (!) in Alabama and another from an educational association in Arizona. These experts have recommended this book as good reading for their students. One fellow dismissed the book because he turned to a page and found some mention of UFOs, but confessed that he hadn't actually read the book yet.
Gibilisco's approach differs rather dramatically from most other relativity books because it is neither highfalutin nor silly. The style is, for the most part, clear. I think the explanations of simultaneity are a little hard to understand and could be misleading to some readers. Gibilisco could do a better job of explaining the relativity of simultaneity among objects in relative motion. It would be nice to have more discussion about paradoxes associated with Special Relativity. An updated edition could clarify some of these issues and also address the question, "Can anything travel faster than the speed of light in free space?"
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William E. Kimberly on January 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
There are a lot of books out there that try to help non-scientists understand Einstein's Theories of Relativity, and I've read a bunch of them. I've also devoted a lot of time to the study of Relativity, in all it's mathematical splendor, and believe I've reached a level of a competent 1st year Physics grad student.
With regard to this book: Mr. Gibilisco explains things better than he understands them, and this book was obviously not proofed by a competent Physicist. So... read it at your own risk. If you aren't going to go further in this subject, his errors probably won't hurt anything, but if you are still deciding which book to buy... keep on looking.
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