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4.3 out of 5 stars
Relativity: The Special & the General Theory: A Popular Exposition
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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2003
In Relativity, Einstein trys to bring his theory of relativity to the masses. When the special and general theorys of relativity were concieved of by Einstein, they revolutionized our perception of space and time. This revolution was so complete that many of the most significant physicists of the time believed that it was nonsense. When Einstein won the Nobel prize for his work on the photoelectric effect, his certificate unequivocally stated that the award was NOT given for his theory of relativity. For much of his life, even Einstein was unwilling to accept some of the predictions of his own work such as black holes.
This is all very good, interesting science and history which should be read and understood by everyone. The problem is, though, that Einstein was not a particularly good writer. Einstein is too brilliant for his own good and it shows through frequently in this attempt to stoop to our level. His explanations are usually hard to follow and unintuitive(and I study physics even!). This book exists on an uncomfortable middle ground between rigor and easy reading.
If you would like to read this book simply because of its (and its author's) historical significance then I couldn't discourage that. If you know little physics and want to try to understand relativity, read Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps or the first few chapters of Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe.
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on January 17, 2011
This book is not an easy read. It is not his best attempt at explaining his theories of special and general relativity. I do however recommend any book he has written purely for the thrill of reading something by his own hand. Without going into details about the book, suffice it to say, his examples are not the most fluid or helpful in explaining the counter intuitive to mediocrities like myself. Moreover, the equations are not for the faint of heart.
But I do have a much better book to recommend, also written by Einstein(and Infeld). The book is called An Evolution Of Physics. It covers the rise and fall of mechanics, explains beautifully theories of special and general relativity, as well as his theory on quanta. I have taken a university course on relativity for non-specialists, am a collector of popular science books, and have twenty or more books explaining Einstein's theories. The Evolution of Physics is sheer poetry!!! Unlike its predecessor published in 1916, this book was published in 1938. In my humble opinion, he got it right the second time 'round.
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on May 1, 2003
In Relativity, Einstein trys to bring his theory of relativity to the masses. When the special and general theorys of relativity were concieved of by Einstein, they revolutionized our perception of space and time. This revolution was so complete that many of the most significant physicists of the time believed that it was nonsense. When Einstein won the Nobel prize for his work on the photoelectric effect, his certificate unequivocally stated that the award was NOT given for his theory of relativity. For much of his life, even Einstein was unwilling to accept some of the predictions of his own work such as black holes.
This is all very good, interesting science and history which should be read and understood by everyone. The problem is, though, that Einstein was not a particularly good writer. Einstein is too brilliant for his own good and it shows through frequently in this attempt to stoop to our level. His explanations are usually hard to follow and unintuitive(and I study physics even!). This book exists on an uncomfortable middle ground between rigor and easy reading.
If you would like to read this book simply because of its (and its author's) historical significance then I couldn't discourage that. If you know little physics and want to try to understand relativity, however, read Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps or the first few chapters of Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe.
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on May 1, 2003
In Relativity, Einstein trys to bring his theory of relativity to the masses. When the special and general theorys of relativity were concieved of by Einstein, they revolutionized our perception of space and time. This revolution was so complete that many of the most significant physicists of the time believed that it was nonsense. When Einstein won the Nobel prize for his work on the photoelectric effect, his certificate unequivocally stated that the award was NOT given for his theory of relativity. For much of his life, even Einstein was unwilling to accept some of the predictions of his own work such as black holes.
This is all very good, interesting science and history which should be read and understood by everyone. The problem is, though, that Einstein was not a particularly good writer. Einstein is too brilliant for his own good and it shows through frequently in this attempt to stoop to our level. His explanations are usually hard to follow and unintuitive(and I study physics even!). This book exists on an uncomfortable middle ground between rigor and easy reading.
If you would like to read this book simply because of its (and its author's) historical significance then I couldn't discourage that. If you know little physics and want to try to understand relativity, read Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps or the first few chapters of Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe.
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on December 9, 2000
As an introduction to the theory of relativity this book fails hilariously. However, as a historical reference of how it was developed this book is very important and shows that the theory of relativity was not a magic idea from Einstein's mind, but a theory developed during years by many physicsits as George FitzGerald, Hendrik Lorentz, Henri Poincare, H. Minkowski, Marcel Grossman, David Hilbert and others. Compared to other books that explains the theory of relativity, such as Joseph Schwartz' "Einstein for beginners", this one is really difficult to understand (not impossible of course, however difficult). The deduction of Lorentz' transformation in the appendix is also very confusing compared to Schwartz. Well, this book is a bit old compared to Schwartz' book, thus it is normal to find out that the way Eistein expose the theory is hard compared to a more recent book. Also if you are an Einstein admire this book is nice to have a deeper view of what he thinks of the development of the theory.
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on June 30, 2013
I will begin with saying that this book deserves its spot on the list of top 25 science books of all time. The ground that Albert Einstein gained in relativity is well demonstrated in this book. Einstein does a reasonably good job of communicating the postulates and impacts of special and general relativity. However, this is not a textbook and it is extremely difficult to follow as a 21st century reader.

The language is of the early 20th century and to those practiced in reading such language this novel shall not prove challenging. However, the only reason that I myself was able to follow along was because I had already studied relativity first. The novel furthered my knowledge of the field of relativity and of Albert Einstein.

I would recommend this novel to those who are already familiar with this field, I would not recommend this as an introductory to relativity.
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on February 11, 2002
Einstein's explanation of special relativity left me feeling warm and fuzzy, but when he moved on to the general theory, things took a turn for the worse. I'll be the first to admit that a failure of information flow from Einstein to me is most likely a problem on the receiving end. However, in this case, Einstein completely left out important parts of the theory. It was as if he tried to explain a bicycle by describing the front wheel. Perhaps he felt that explaining the whole bicycle without leveraging concepts from elsewhere in physics and math was not possible. That may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that reading this book isn't going to give you a very clear understanding of the general theory of relativity.
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on September 18, 1999
A great book for a person already well edjucated on the topic. The vocabulary alone will make a less edjucated reader have a dictonary beside them through the course of the book.
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