Good special relativity book for a 10 year old?

In summary, my son asked whether photons emerging from a flashlight shone by someone on the plane would move at 300,000 km/sec plus the speed of the plane to a terrestrial observer. He then asked if there were any books that would help him articulate the concepts of special relativity in simple terms.
  • #1
Scrumhalf
Gold Member
98
61
Dear forum members,

My 10 year old son intuitively figured out the concept of frames of reference. After a series of questions regarding walking down the aisle of an aircraft at x mph and how that would appear to a fellow passenger versus someone on the ground, he startled me by asking whether the photons emerging from the flashlight shone by the passenger on the plane would seem to move at 300,000 km/sec plus the speed of the plane to a terrestrial observer.

I would like to explain special relativity to him but need some help with analogies that would get the key concepts across without delving into the math (he is working on basic algebra but clearly not ready for anything serious).

Are there any books that would help me articulate in simple terms the concepts of special relativity? It does not have to be something he can read - it is more for me to read and give me ideas to communicate to him.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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  • #2
It's the same even for walking down the aisle of a plane.
 
  • #3
atyy said:
It's the same even for walking down the aisle of a plane.

What is? The speed of light?

Well, I know that... :)

What I am looking for is a book that has simple explanations and analogies that would help me communicate the concepts to a 10 year old.

Thanks!
 
  • #4
Two possibilities are Gardner, Relativity Simply Explained, and the relativity chapter from Hewitt, Conceptual Physics. There is only a very small amount of basic algebra in these.
 
  • #5
I mean the addition of velocities is the same for walking down the aisle (ie. the first question he asked you). So if you answered that right, there's no need for a book until he learns algebra.
 
  • #6
Scrumhalf said:
Are there any books that would help me articulate in simple terms the concepts of special relativity? It does not have to be something he can read - it is more for me to read and give me ideas to communicate to him.
If you're looking for stuff you can read that's more conceptual than mathematical and deals with the relativity of motion, one good one would be https://www.amazon.com/dp/0226288641/?tag=pfamazon01-20...
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #7
He might enjoy some early books by George Gamow,
"Mr. Thompkins in Wonderland".
 
  • #9
Lots of great recommendations! I have located a couple of them in the local library and ordered a couple on Amazon. Thanks, everyone!
 

Related to Good special relativity book for a 10 year old?

1. What is special relativity?

Special relativity is a theory developed by Albert Einstein that explains how objects move and interact with each other at high speeds. It is a fundamental concept in the field of physics.

2. Why is it important for a 10 year old to learn about special relativity?

Learning about special relativity can help a 10 year old develop critical thinking skills and understand the world around them. It can also lay the foundation for future learning in science and math.

3. What are some key concepts in special relativity that a 10 year old can understand?

Some key concepts that a 10 year old can understand in special relativity include the idea that the laws of physics are the same for everyone, regardless of their speed, and that time and space are relative and can change based on an observer's perspective.

4. Are there any books specifically written for 10 year olds about special relativity?

Yes, there are several books available that explain special relativity in a way that is easy for 10 year olds to understand. Examples include "Einstein and the Time Machine" by Silvia Baron Supervielle and "Max Goes to the Moon: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog" by Jeffrey Bennett.

5. Can a 10 year old conduct experiments to understand special relativity?

While 10 year olds may not be able to conduct experiments on their own, there are many simple demonstrations and activities that can help them understand the basic concepts of special relativity. For example, they can use a flashlight and a mirror to demonstrate the constancy of the speed of light, or use a toy car to understand how objects appear to change size when moving at high speeds.

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