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Spacetime Physics 2nd Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0716723271
ISBN-10: 0716723271
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman; 2nd edition (March 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716723271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716723271
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I used this book to begin my mathematical study of Relativity (and am now working my way through the author's next book, Exploring Black Holes). This book is an excellent introduction into the field from a mathematical perspective, with an excellent presentation, interesting problem sets, and solutions for the odd numbered problems in the back (which is great for learning on your own). The prose is highly readable, and uses very accessible terminology to help the reader understand "what is really going on."
In its course, Taylor and Wheeler present over a dozen "paradoxes" relating to Special Relativity. Several of these appear in the main text, while the remainder appear as problems. I believe my intuition is lacking because I was unable to get the right answer for the paradox problems without working through the math first - although this intuition may come only with further experience. I would have been happy if the authors had included a few more paradox problems with solutions from an "intuition" perspective (as well as a mathematical solutions) to help gain this intuition.
The mathematics throughout the book is nothing harder than algebra and the occasional trigonometry, so it should well be accessible to anyone with a high-school calculus understanding of math. One mathematical trick the authors introduce in their next book would be helpful for this one as well: when solving for a number which is only slightly less than one, (as in several of the problems with particles moving near light speed) instead of trying to solve for .9999999999992343, which would be rounded to 1 by most calculators, solve for "1 - X" instead.
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Format: Paperback
If you want to understand the basic concepts of the Theory of Relativity, this book is the BEST ONE to start with. Even if you have already studied the topic and you THINK you understand it, I STILL RECOMMEND that you read Spacetime Physics. Chances are that your knowledge will be much better organized or at least you will find it more easy to explain it to others.
The authors' approach clearly shows that they have extensive experience in teaching and they know which concepts usually cause most difficulty for students. These hard-to-grasp points are explained through creative analogies and parables. The most relevant experiments are explained clearly. The authors manage to achieve clarity without compromising accuracy.
Keep in mind, however, that while Spacetime Physics is a great place to start, it only covers the basics, so you will need other books for a decent knowledge on the topic. It will definitely not be enough to survive a serious course on the Theory of Relativity.
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Format: Paperback
This is, by far, the best book on special relativity. I've lectured from its first edition, and will continue with the second. It is the only book I know which gives you a global picture of special relativity, both theory and methods for solving problems. What I liked most of it is the intense use of the very powerful graphical methods it develops right at the beginning. In this way you solve with two strokes of chalk a problem which would involve lots of algebra, and get a much better understanding of the whole thing. The concepts are introduced in a very careful, if elementary, way, through a deep analysis of simple experiments. The discovery of the correct relativistic form of the momentum, for instance, is particularly enlightening. It is a joy to see how much and how good physics can be done with almost no mathematics. The exercises are also splendid.
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Format: Paperback
Reading some of the reviews below, I'm reminded of a cartoon showing Moses parting the Red Sea. One Israelite is grumbling to another, "It's a bit damp in there, isn't it ...."

I know the folksy style of this book can be off-putting to some. But if anyone thinks that the content is dumbed down, it can only mean they haven't scratched below the surface and discovered the extraordinary wealth of examples, insightful applications and programmed exercises. Taylor and Wheeler (John Wheeler, one of the outstanding theoreticians of our time) are attempting to acculturate students (ouch) to the counter-intuitive world of special relativity, set in the context of general relativity. That takes more than a collection of formulas given in a handout at the start of the semester. You don't need heavy math, but you do need much thoughtful pedagogy. They succeed brilliantly and, contrary to some opinions, do so without glossing over anything of importance. The only aspect of basic relativity not touched on is the covariant formulation of the electromagnetic field equations (I defy anyone to do that without a couple of years' calculus). In short, the book is far from trivial. It is accessible to any numerate high-school graduate able and willing to think. I can't imagine how it could have been done better.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fun book to read, and a good introduction to the topic of special relativity. Those who are looking for a laid back, amusing introduction would love this book. Those posters who are giving it 1-2 stars, I have one question - why did you buy the book? Looking at all the negative posts, they have one thing in common, they were all made by people with some exposure to the topic of special relativity (ie, university physics students). Why one earth would someone studying relativity in university purchase a basic book like this? There are text books written on a more advanced level for people like this - and they should know this. If I'm an advanced expert user of Excel, why would I buy "Excel for Dummies" and complain that it was too basic? (unless I was hoping to impress people with how smart I am).
The title says it all "Introduction to Special Relativity", yes its big, its dumb at times, but its also fun and definitely worth getting
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