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How would you explain the Special Theory of Relativity using Physics?

  1. Jun 12, 2005 #1
    Everywhere I read, they are all about the history of the theory or the impact, I can't find a site that actually uses Physics concept to explain it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 12, 2005 #2
    The book I have is "Einstein's Theory of Relativity," by Max Born, a Dover paperback. This takes a long time working up to the theory (the Michelson Morley experiment is on page 215) and begins with classic physics. Maybe it would be helpful, then again, I am not exactly sure what it is you are seeking.
  4. Jun 12, 2005 #3


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    What's your background?
  5. Jun 13, 2005 #4
    Try Resnick Holiday for problem solving on Relativity.I did my solving frm it.
  6. Jun 13, 2005 #5


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    I can't imagine a book on relativity that doesn't use physics to explain it! It is, after all, physics. What do you mean by "uses physics to explain it"?
    I have a suspicion that you mean "doesn't have any mathematical formulas at all".
  7. Jun 13, 2005 #6


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    Check a physics textbook rather than the internet.
  8. Jun 15, 2005 #7


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    HallsofIvy's conclusion is the same as mine. Honestly, the math involved in special relativity is really not terribly difficult, however, so pushing to understand it mathematically is worth it.
  9. Jun 15, 2005 #8


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    We seem to have lost Gamecube. If we assume he's at a high school level, what would the best book be? If he has some calculus, what would the best book be? I'm a bit fond of Bondi's "Relativity and common sense" for the former, and have heard many good things about Taylor & Wheeler's "Space-time Physics" for the later, though I don't own it (I've glanced at it in the bookstore). I may be wrong about it requiring calculus too.
  10. Jun 15, 2005 #9


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    For HS level, I'd suggest
    Bondi, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0486240215/
    Geroch, General Relativity from A to B http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0226288641/104-0842951-1121523?v=glance

    Advanced-HS or introductory undergraduate.... one can skim over the parts that need calculus...
    Taylor and Wheeler, Spacetime Physics (the maroon 1966 edition with solutions)
    Ellis and Williams, Flat and Curved Space-Times, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0198511698/
    Moore, A Traveler's Guide to Spacetime, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0070430276
    (a subset appears in Six Ideas That Shaped Physics: Unit R - Laws of Physics are Frame-Independent http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0072397144/ )

    A common theme in these books is the emphasis on the Spacetime Diagram, geometrical interpretations, and operational definitions. (The Lorentz transformations take a back seat to the Spacetime Diagram.)

    My $0.02
  11. Jun 23, 2005 #10
    It's all very simple. Special relativity can be derived with moving rulers in such a way that the astonishing connection between space and time can be clearly understood.

  12. Jun 24, 2005 #11

    George Jones

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    The books on your list are all favourites of mine :smile: . Spacetime diagrams on which key events are carefully indentified and invariance of the interval go a long, long way. Then, Lorentz contraction and time dilation formulae, which students often use the wrong way around, don't have to be taught as separate concepts.

    I would add one book that the title of the thread exculdes - Exploring Black Holes: Introduction to General Relativity. This book does have more prerequisites than the other book - first-year physics and calculus, and some special relativity - but the payoff for this added investment is huge.

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