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Relativity and Common Sense: A New Approach to Einstein Revised Edition
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From the Publisher
Relativity and Common Sense
A New Approach to Einstein
This radically reoriented and popular presentation of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity derives its concepts from Newtonian ideas rather than by opposing them. Sir Hermann Bondi explains the concepts of force, momentum, rotation, sound, and light and their relation to velocity. He then demonstrates that time is relative rather than absolute, that high speeds affect the nature of time, and that acceleration affects speed, time, and mass. Very little mathematics is required, and 60 illustrations augment the text.
Einstein's Theory of Relativity
A book in which one great mind explains the work of another great mind in terms comprehensible to the layman is a significant achievement. This is such a book. Max Born is a Nobel Laureate (1955) and one of the world's great physicists: in this book he analyzes and interprets the theory of Einsteinian relativity. The result is undoubtedly the most lucid and insightful of all the books that have been written to explain the revolutionary theory that marked the end of the classical and the beginning of the modern era of physics. (0486607690)
Relativity Simply Explained
Since the publication of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity in 1905, the discovery of such astronomical phenomena as quasars, pulsars, and black holes — all intimately connected to relativity — has provoked a tremendous upsurge of interest in the subject. This volume, a revised version of Martin Gardner's earlier Relativity for the Million, brings this fascinating topic up to date. Witty, perceptive, and easily accessible to the general reader, it is one of the clearest and most entertaining introductions to relativity ever written. (0486293157)
Sidelights on Relativity
In 1905, a German technical journal, Annalen der Physik, published a remarkable paper by a young clerk in the patent office at Berne, Switzerland. The clerk was Albert Einstein. The paper outlined his Special Theory of Relativity, a revolutionary physical theory which discarded the concept of absolute motion in favor of relative motion in the context of a four-dimensional continuum of space-time. It proved to be the most profound revolution in physics since Newton. (048624511X)
About the Author
- Publisher : Dover Publications; Revised edition (January 1, 1980)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0486240215
- ISBN-13 : 978-0486240213
- Item Weight : 7.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.36 x 0.41 x 7.92 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #818,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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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. Personally, I think it is better to understand all the calculations component-wise thoroughly before moving on to the elegant formalism of four-vectors.
I read this book in a half a day. After glancing through it for this review, I think I will probably reread it a few times for the historical background.
1) The bulk of his presentation relies on a cumbersome supposition (graphical and otherwise) involving several characters moving through space and time to prove that time is a route-dependent quantity. If the reader wants to truly understand Bondi's theory, he or she should plan to sit down with a chalk board or a paper and pen in order to keep the character's names and their travels straight.
2) The basis for the presentation is so tedious that eventually one reaches the point of sensory overload and, as a result, ends up accepting the conceptual foundation of Bondi's theory as is -- which is no different than taking Einstein's special theory of relativity at face value. In other words, for this reader, Bondi fails to convincingly derive special relativity from Newtonian physics.
Top reviews from other countries
1. Historically : Bondi seemingly has never heard of Galileo regarding the principle of relativity, which he wrongly attributes to Newton... Similarly, he timidly cites Lorentz, just once, and never Poincaré, when in fact the Lorentz transformations are Poincaré's -- Poincaré elegantly named them "Lorentz" to recognize Lorentz's work-- an elegance that Einstein never showed regarding the precedence of Poincaré... And today we know that Poincaré's works were abundantly read and studied by Einstein in the Olympia Academy !!!
2. His method, based on the K ratio, although not the standard treatment, has in fact been used by David Bohm (The Special Theory of Relativity) but in the right way, i.e. after exposing the standard way : e.g. Bondi never mentions Lambda, let alone extracts it from his K-calculus and even less gives the relation between K and Lambda...
3. Apart from chapter XIII on mass, which is a real mess, Bondi's treatment of the basic concepts is indeed full of common sense, but again is more oriented towards readers who have already been exposed to classical treatments and have some queries as to the reality of the nonintuitive aspects of Special Relativity.
For a better intro to that subject : Brian Greene's video course + Peter Collier's "A most incomprehensible thing" + a lot of others in my comment on "The Principle of Relativity" by Einstein, Weyl and Minkowski.