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Relativity for the Questioning Mind

Daniel F. Styer

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To those of us who are not mathematicians or physicists, Einstein’s theory of relativity often seems incomprehensible, exotic, and of little real-world use. None of this is true. Daniel F. Styer’s introduction to the topic not only shows us why these beliefs are mistaken but also shines a bright light on the subject so that any curious-minded person with an understanding of algebra and geometry can both grasp and apply the theory.

Styer starts off slowly and proceeds carefully, explaining the concepts undergirding relativity in language comprehensible to nonscientists yet precise and accurate…

To those of us who are not mathematicians or physicists, Einstein’s theory of relativity often seems incomprehensible, exotic, and of little real-world use. None of this is true. Daniel F. Styer’s introduction to the topic not only shows us why these beliefs are mistaken but also shines a bright light on the subject so that any curious-minded person with an understanding of algebra and geometry can both grasp and apply the theory.

Styer starts off slowly and proceeds carefully, explaining the concepts undergirding relativity in language comprehensible to nonscientists yet precise and accurate enough to satisfy the most demanding professional. He demonstrates how the theory applies to various real-life situations with easy equations and simple, clear diagrams. Styer's classroom-tested method of conveying the core ideas of relativity—the relationship among and between time, space, and motion and the behavior of light—encourages questions and shows the way to finding the answers. Each of the book’s four parts builds on the sections that come before, leading the reader by turn through an overview of foundational ideas such as frames of reference, revelatory examples of time dilation and its attendant principles, an example-based exploration of relativity, and explanations of how and why gravity and spacetime are linked. By demonstrating relativity with practical applications, Styer teaches us to truly understand and appreciate its importance, beauty, and usefulness.

Featuring worked and end-of-chapter problems and illustrated, nontechnical explanations of core concepts, while dotted throughout with questions and answers, puzzles, and paradoxes, Relativity for the Questioning Mind is an enjoyable-to-read, complete, concise introduction to one of the most important scientific theories yet discovered. The appendixes provide helpful hints, basic answers to the sample problems, and materials to stimulate further exploration.

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Relativity for the Questioning Mind

Daniel F. Styer

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Reviews

Reviews

Informative, challenging, and fun at the same time.

Styer has written a thoughtful, well-structured introduction to the ideas of the special and general theories of relativity that should be accessible and engaging to any general reader.

Organized beautifully and written well, this is one of the clearest explanations of the traditional stumbling blocks to learning relativity. I would recommend it to anyone who really wants to understand the core points of relativity without a lot of distracting information.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
200
ISBN
9780801897603
Illustration Description
1 halftone, 67 line drawings
Subject
Table of Contents

Invitation
Part I: Moving
1. The Paradox of the Mirror
2. Space, Time, and Motion
3. The Strange Behavior of Lightr
Part II: Uncovering Relativity
4. Time Dilation
5. The Great Race
6. Length Contraction
7

Invitation
Part I: Moving
1. The Paradox of the Mirror
2. Space, Time, and Motion
3. The Strange Behavior of Lightr
Part II: Uncovering Relativity
4. Time Dilation
5. The Great Race
6. Length Contraction
7. Clock Synchronization
Part III: Exploring Relativity
8. The Case of the Hungry Traveler
9. He Says, She Says
10. Speed Limits
11. Speed Addition
12. Rigidity, Straightness, and Strength
13. The Twin Paradox
14. The Pole in the Barn
15. Voyage to Spica
16. Free-for-All
Part IV: Starting and Stopping
17. General Relativity
18. A Pair of Clocks Starts Moving
19. Black Holes
20. The Vista Open to Us
Appendix
A. For the Cognoscenti
B. Hints
C. Skeleton Answers
D. Ready Reference
Index

Author Bio
Daniel F. Styer
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Daniel F. Styer

Daniel F. Styer is the John and Marianne Schiffer Professor of Physics at Oberlin College and the author of The Strange World of Quantum Mechanics.
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