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A book on einstein's theories of relativity

  1. Jun 17, 2010 #1

    I'm not a science student neither of mathematics. I have a understanding of mathematics and physics topics up to high school - calculus etc.

    I was thinking of learning about relativity which is quite contrary to common sense, for fellows like me. I was look at this https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Relativity-Simplified-Approach-Einsteins/dp/0520200292" which had received good reviews. Do you have any comments on this one? Would you like to like to suggest any other title? I don't like those science books which are more on the line to teach you how to calculate things rather the meaning behind those calculations. I need a book which can help me to reconcile the contrariness of relativity with general understanding. I'm looking forward to your suggestions. Thanks, in advance.

    Best wishes
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2010 #2


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    Hi, you may not have noticed that we have a forum specifically for discussing and comparing books. I've moved this thread there. While waiting for further responses, you might like to try the "Search this forum" option with the word "relativity" to see what other threads have been made in the past. (You'll have to go to the list of threads in this forum in order to see this option.)
  4. Jun 17, 2010 #3
    Try space time physics by wheeler and taylor
  5. Jun 17, 2010 #4
    The Einstein Theory of Relativity by Lillian Lieber is a fun and informative book, complete with illustrations from her husband.
  6. Jun 17, 2010 #5
    N. David Mermin, It's About Time.
  7. Jun 17, 2010 #6
    Thanks, everyone.

    Sorry, I forgot to tell you that I don't really want a book which is completely devoid of mathematics. The one which explains everything to bridge the gap between common understanding of the world and how the theories approach... I have seen books which rather try to explain things in terms of mathematics without caring to explain what's the logical reason behind. I won't mind if it is 500 pages plus book. All I want is a a kind of all-in-one book. Let me remind you again I have, you can say, good understanding of math and physics up to high school level - calculus etc.

    Thanks, in advance.
  8. Jun 18, 2010 #7
    The Einstein Theory of Relativity by Lillian Lieber is excellent!
  9. Jun 18, 2010 #8
    Hi Vee

    Have you read it yourself? Does she explain the mathematics, or abstain from it altogether?

  10. Jun 18, 2010 #9
    I've read Lieber's book and it's a true pearl. It gives also an introduction to tensors and covariant differentiation. It focuses on the true basics fundamental concepts of the theory and explains the physical meaning of calculations.
  11. Jun 18, 2010 #10
    Gold, thanks for the information.

    Best wishes
  12. Jun 18, 2010 #11
    Hi Jack. Yes I've read it, Goldbeetle describes it perfectly. I don't think it is commonly available at libraries, I bought it on a whim, but it is a good book to read and re-read. Worth my money.
  13. Jul 11, 2010 #12

    Sorry for bothering you again. Actually I wanted to know if this recommended book start to develop the theories from scratch, or just like other books impose things on you. Does the author follow natural line of reasoning like first discussing Newtonian picture of motion and discussing its flaws which perhaps provoked, invited Einstein to think in a revolutionary way? Thanks, in advance.
  14. Jul 11, 2010 #13
    Yes, it starts from galilean relativity.
  15. Jul 11, 2010 #14


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  16. Jul 11, 2010 #15
    Gold, thanks a lot for confirming this.
  17. Jul 11, 2010 #16
    DX, thanks for your recommendation.
  18. Jul 11, 2010 #17
    Liber's book has math. Order it through your library and check. I think it's excellent.
  19. Jul 12, 2010 #18
    Gold, what is the level of math used? I can make sense of simple calculus and simple physics. I don't have that much problem with math but I hate those science books which use math to explain everything, doing it they simply evade many points.
  20. Jul 12, 2010 #19
    If you know what a partial derivative is and what a matrix is, you should be able to follow. The tensor calculus needed for the general theory is introduced and explained very, very well. I recommend this book because it focuses on the very basic physical and mathematical ideas and no more, without hand-waving but in a reader friendly manner.
  21. Jul 13, 2010 #20
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