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Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension (Dover Books on Mathematics) annotated edition Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486234007
ISBN-10: 0486234002
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rudy Rucker is a mathematician, computer scientist, professor and writer who has twice won the Philip K. Dick Award for best SF paperback original, and has published a number of successful popular books on mathematical subjects, including "The Fourth Dimension" and "Infinity and the Mind." He lives in Los Gatos, California.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Mathematics
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; annotated edition edition (June 1, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486234002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486234007
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his own introduction the author, Mr. R. Rucker, states, "My goal has been to present an intuitive picture of the curved space-time we call home. There are a number of excellent introductions to the separate topics treated here, but there has been no prior weaving of them into a sustained visual account. I looked for a book like this for many years- and finding none, I wrote it." His dedication has been rewarded, as the text is one of the finer introductory books on the curvature of space time and special relativity.
The 'book like this' as the author calls it, walks the reader through several visual explanations that allow a solid mathematical and graphical explanation of modern physics. This isn't always a simple explanation, but there is a certain reward to struggling with the concepts before understanding them. In particular, Chapter 4 on time as a higher dimension makes the entire book worth reading, with many fascinating examples and a host of thought-provoking examples, such as "Schrodinger's Cat."
This is a very interesting book which would be of use to anyone who wishes to push just a little bit further than the typical popular physics text. For those who wish to push even further to solidify their knowledge, there are even questions at the end of each chapter. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoy Rudy Rucker's nonfiction, and some of his fiction too (_White Light_ is great). He's very good at presenting mind-blowingly cool ideas in accessible expository prose, and he knows _just_ when to throw in the bombs.
This particular book is published by Dover, and it's not one of their usual reprints; it was _originally_ published by Dover. (In 1977, but the geometry of spacetime hasn't changed much since then.) It's an exploration of just what the title says: the geometry of the four-dimensional spacetime that the theory of relativity says is Really Out There.
Well, this is a good book on the subject, but you can get others (although one of the best -- Cornelius Lanczos's delightful _Space Through the Ages_ -- has long been out of print). What's coolest about this one is that Rudy Rucker wrote it.
Which means you get those little bombs thrown in at all the right places. Of course Rucker gives you what any competent mathematician will give you -- a sound introductory presentation of the mathematics of 4D spacetime and relativity theory, which are weird enough if you haven't encountered them before (and maybe even if you have) -- but he doesn't stop there. You also get an argument that the apparent passage of time is an illusion, and a little speculation about how this might tie in with the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. And even that isn't all: you get a suggestion that it's possible to _develop a spacetime consciousness_ via some sort of meditation techniques or mystical insight, together with an entry in the annotated bibliography referring you (cautiously) to Robert A. Monroe's _Journeys Out of the Body_, whose experiments Rucker himself has tried.
It's like Raymond Smullyan on acid, if you know what I mean. But honest, it really does make sense.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, finally, I get the hoopla with the fourth dimension. Rucker explains things with lots of classsical geometric illustrations. Not intending to scare you, I must warn you that he takes the reader all the way to a 5-dimensional world. Still, it is simple to explain, because he uses line-land (the 2-dimansional version of flatland) adds a dimension, then one more, and the result can be visualized in 3-D. I am just astounded that I could understand this without mind-crunching effort. It was not an easy read, but it was not very hard either. No derivatives, matrixes, integrals, or any of the other off-putting versions of mathematics. Just straight (actually fairly wrinkled) geometry.
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Format: Paperback
This is the best introduction to non-Euclidean geometry and special relativity that I have ever encountered. The book is basic enough to be understandable (at least to a degree) by any intelligent (and determined) adolescent, but deep enough for the physics or math undergraduate and perhaps even graduate student to find continual interest in. Rucker has a way of introducing complex ideas in a rather simple fashion so trhat one doesn't often realise how deep the subject matter is at first. Unlike some of his other books, however, considerable math background is required and a substantial amount of effort and force of will on the part of the reader will be necessary. All the same, the book is an intensely interesting foray into the world of geometry and relativistic physics. His adaption af Abbott's "A.Square" character to ealborated his ideas are particularly amusing and helpful.
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Format: Paperback
Don't let the title frighten you.
Clear, concise, and not overly daunting....this tome can be read and understood by anyone--even if you haven't had calculus yet. This is a great introduction to non-Euclidean geometry and a nice summary of the history of mathematics. At the very least, it made me read Flatland again. :o)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Five stars becauce Rucker put a lot into this book, its obvious he cared a great deal about writing this book; the annotated bibliography is an example of this and worth buying the book just read this. Having said that, I found this book very tough. Bits of understanding come through but this is the kind of book you can read and re-read and re-re-read and still be baffled, which is not Ruckers fault it is just the material subject matter.
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