Understanding Einstein's Theories of Relativity: Man's New Perspective on the Cosmosby Stan Gibilisco
Clear, concise exposition of both the special and general theories of relativity, intended for nonscientific readers with a knowledge of high school math. Topics include simultaneity, time dilation, length contraction, the possibility of travel to a distant star, non-Euclidean geometries, black holes, and the structure of the universe. 158 illustrations.
- T A B Books
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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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