Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Review: "Relativity Simply Explained"

Relativity Simply Explained
By Martin Gardner

I picked up Relativity Simply Explained to help me understand Einstein's special and general theories. I was looking for something that was not too in depth, but gave me enough that I could think about it along accurate lines.

This book did just that. Martin Gardner published the book initially back in the '60s, but updated this version in '97. He started by explaining the state of physics at the time Einstein was developing his special theory of relativity. Gardner then moves to explain both theories. Next he goes into more specifics about what relativity did for the theory of gravity and the dimensionality of the universe. After that, Gardner provides the evidence that confirms the theories.

After the technical stuff is done, Gardner brings up the infamous "Twins Paradox", quasars, pulsars, black holes, the beginning and the end of the universe. Some of this is speculative, but mostly he provides what has been confirmed.

I really enjoyed the fact that Gardner kept this book on a lay level. He did toss in a few equations, but nothing that a high school junior can't solve. I was quite excited to be able to understand the theories and see how it makes sense in our world. I will most likely get another book that goes deeper (just because I have questions still), but that will have to wait for when I have more time.

This book is quite short (174 heavily illustrated pages). It was not a heavy read, but was heavy enough to keep me awake late a few nights. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a basic grip on relativity and the impact it has had on physical science.