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Relativity and Common Sense: A New Approach to Einstein Revised Edition
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As for the "k calculus" that Professor Bondi invented to teach the subject, I found it very enjoyable. When I was in elementary school in the 1960's, we saw some really amazing science films produced by Bell Labs. In one of them, the scientist teacher explained time dilation by showing a clock made from a bouncing photon. It was easy enough for a child to understand :) I realize looking back on it that he was using the same idea as the k calculus, but without any calculations.
I think this book is a great introduction from first principles, and as much as possible from "common sense". However, even though the k calculus allows you to do primitive calculations, if you want to do more serious calculations, you need to read a more standard introduction to Special Relativity after this one. Even Einstein eventually admitted that working with Minkowski space was the way to go, although (I am told) he considered it an unnecessary formalism when it was first used.Read more ›
Unfortunately, Bondi does make some serious mistakes. For example, he conflates "time" and "elapsed time", which is analogous to conflating "position" and "distance". Second, by claiming that the laws of physics only apply to inertial reference frames, I think the author impedes the understanding of general relativity.
The author does deserve credit for using the correct formula for time dilation, not the naive gamma factor.
Bondi's approach makes relativity seem almost obvious. The earlier chapters, which some felt were irrelevant, are designed to contrast sound with light, which may be more familiar, or at least less surprising. There is a lot of physics in this book
Some may be misled by a statement in John Durston's preface: "Professor Bondi derives Relativity from Newtonian ideas." One cannot derive relativity from Newtonian mechanics. But Newtonian concepts can be used to advantage.
My only caveat is that there are several unfortunate typos, especially Eq. (20) on page 123.
the equations for Einstein's Theory of Relativity,
it is an *excellent* book to learn the ideas
behind it. Relativity is a complex idea and
this book will explain well to anybody who takes
the time to read it and think about things.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a first class introduction to the special theory of relativity. It should be regarded as an essential text for anyone interested in relativity at any level. Read morePublished on December 19, 2013 by AstroStatistician
This is an old book that I bought used. I'm not that impressed with its contents. It is difficult to read.Published on December 17, 2012 by Gary Julian
The basic theme of this book about relativity and common sense is so far stretched that one could call this a con job. Read morePublished on May 7, 2004 by rihnot
There's no doubting Bondi's credentials or the potentiality of his thesis on the common-sense derivation of special relativity from Newtonian physics, but Bondi fails on two basic... Read morePublished on March 6, 2003 by Bob
Bondi has a very novel and easy to follow approach to deriving time dilation. He uses a handful of travellers / observers moving relative to each other at subluminal speeds... Read morePublished on March 24, 2002 by Walter G. Hecker