The Adventure of Physics - Vol. II: Relativity
Copyright Year: 1990
Publisher: Motion Mountain
Conditions of Use
It covers special and general relativity with a detailed index. read more
It covers special and general relativity with a detailed index.
His treatment of general relativity centers around his view that there is a maximum force (in the same way that special relativity centers around there being a limiting speed) which he has published, but as far as I can tell this is not at all widely accepted by relativists. For this reason I will rate the accuracy with a 3.
It is certainly up-to-date in that it reports very recent results. The author's certainties are woven into the text in such a way that the book will be quite difficult to rewrite. Thus it is hard to rate relevance/longevity; I'll give it a 4 because of the appearance of latest observations and measurements.
It is clearly written, easy to read from a language standpoint; there are a few places where his English is non-native.
I do not think it is very modular. Also it very frequently refers to other volumes in the series, as being needed for an understanding of the material in this volume.
It does not lead in an understandable, step-by-step way, from ignorance to comprehension. I think however that the author believes his treatment does do this. I expect students would be frustrated. If you already know relativity you can follow what he is saying.
Very good! The graphs, photographs etc. are excellent.
No offensivity of this kind.
This book cannot be used for teaching a course. I may pick some stories, facts, or examples from it when I teach relativity but I cannot imagine a course for which this would be a text. If you already know relativity it's quite a bit of fun to read and you *can* learn from it, but you need to have a sufficient base in the subject to avoid getting swept away by the author's views.
The book covers a lot of material, well beyond what is usually found in a typical undergraduate text. However, as the preface states “This book is not written with exams in mind” and, to me, this implies that it is not suitable (or even intended)... read more
The book covers a lot of material, well beyond what is usually found in a typical undergraduate text. However, as the preface states “This book is not written with exams in mind” and, to me, this implies that it is not suitable (or even intended) as the main textbook for the relativity course, at least in U.S. institutions. However, the book can be used as a supplementary text, as it covers many interesting aspects of relativity which are not usually found in a typical college text.
I admit that I did not read the whole book, but what I have read seems to be accurate, with few exceptions. Some of the discussions are somewhat ambiguous and can be confusing to the reader, see point 9 below.
The material seems to be up to date and I do not see that its critical parts it will become obsolete any time soon. Any necessary updates can indeed be added at any point.
For an undergraduate who knows nothing about relativity, the text might be difficult to follow at times, as the definitions are not always given before the term is used. Figure captions are often not comprehensive and do not contain necessary description. I see a lot of room for improvement here and would prefer figure captions, which are self-contained so the reader does not have to search for the relevant part of the text just to understand what the figure is showing. For example: “FIGURE 23: A space-time diagram for a moving object T seen from an inertial observer O” – But where is the observer O? There are also some repetitions in the text which are not always necessary. Finally, I have noticed that some concepts are discussed in depth several times, but others, e.g. a space-time diagram, are not well explained.
The text is fairly consistent in terms of terminology, however, I noticed that “ T” is used to denote both kinetic energy and temperature.
Since the book is quite different from standard college texts, the modularity is somewhat special. Typical textbooks on special relativity usually have dedicated sections on topics like “Time dilation”, “Lorentz transformation”, etc. While these and other concepts are indeed present in the book, they are not always easy to find using the “Contents” section.
As mentioned above, sometimes the definitions are given after the term, e.g. “event”, has been already used in the discussion. Again, this is not a typical textbook, but some readers might still have problems.
The interface seems to be excellent and the text is easy to navigate. However, some hyperlinks point to other volumes in the series and I can see that some readers might find this a bit annoying. However, once other volumes are downloaded, everything works great.
The text is definitely readable and understandable, but there are typos and ambiguities here and there, which can confuse the reader: on page 9: “intuitive and way of learning”; on page 74: “the energy difference is emitted as energy.”, on page 75: "If the motion between two events is slower than the speed of light…”; on page 76: "an body", etc. Running a spell checker should have fixed most of these.
I did not find the text culturally, racially, or sexually offensive, but it seems to show a bit of German character.
In summary, I have reservations using it as the main one but the book is very good as a supplementary text in the relativity course. It will particularly be useful for students who want to learn a bit more about the relativity than the traditional textbook has to offer. In addition, the book should be useful for teachers looking to enrich their lectures as it offers quite a few interesting examples as well as historical facts.
Table of Contents
- 1 Maximum Speed, Observers At Rest And Motion Of Light
- 2 Relativistic Mechanics
- 3 Special Relativity In Four Sentences
- 4 Simple General Relativity: Gravitation, Maximum Speed And Maximum Force
- 5 How Maximum Speed Changes Space, Time And Gravity
- 6 Open Orbits, Bent Light And Wobbling Vacuum
- 7 From Curvature To Motion
- 8 Why Can We See The Stars? – Motion In The Universe
- 9 Black Holes – Falling Forever
- 10 Does Space Differ From Time?
- 11 General Relativity In A Nutshell – A Summary For The Layman
About the Book
This book is written for anybody who is curious about nature and motion. Curiosity about how people, animals, things, images and empty space move leads to many adven- tures. This volume presents the best of them in the domains of relativity and cosmology. In the study of motion – physics – special and general relativity form two important building blocks.
Special relativity is the exploration of the energy speed limit c. General relativity is the exploration of the force limit c4/4G. The text shows that in both domains, all equations follow from these two limit values. This simple, intuitive and unusual way of learning relativity should reward the curiosity of every reader – whether student or professional.
The present volume is the second of a six-volume overview of physics that arose from a threefold aim that I have pursued since 1990: to present motion in a way that is simple, up to date and captivating.
In order to be simple, the text focuses on concepts, while keeping mathematics to the necessary minimum. Understanding the concepts of physics is given precedence over using formulae in calculations. The whole text is within the reach of an undergraduate.
In order to be up to date, the text is enriched by the many gems – both theoretical and empirical – that are scattered throughout the scientific literature.
In order to be captivating, the text tries to startle the reader as much as possible. Read- ing a book on general physics should be like going to a magic show. We watch, we are astonished, we do not believe our eyes, we think, and finally we understand the trick. When we look at nature, we often have the same experience. Indeed, every page presents at least one surprise or provocation for the reader to think about. Numerous interesting challenges are proposed.
The motto of the text, die Menschen stärken, die Sachen klären, a famous statement by Hartmut von Hentig on pedagogy, translates as: ‘To fortify people, to clarify things.' Clar- ifying things – and adhering only to the truth – requires courage, as changing the habits of thought produces fear, often hidden by anger. But by overcoming our fears we grow in strength. And we experience intense and beautiful emotions. All great adventures in life allow this, and exploring motion is one of them. Enjoy it!
About the Contributors
Christoph Schiller, born in 1960, is European. Raised in Varese, he studied physics at the Universität Stuttgart and received his Ph.D. in physics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, in the department of Ilya Prigogine. Christoph Schiller is an innovation manager. He is convinced that exploring and applying physics can provide as much pleasure as anything else in life - and he explains why in the present text. He started the Motion Mountain Textbook project in Yokohama in 1990, wrote most of the text in Eindhoven and is finishing it during his business trips.