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Looking for an in depth book on special relativity

  1. Dec 30, 2011 #1
    I have very little background in special relativity (near to nothing, just what I've found on wikipedia). I've been looking for a book on special relativity that's for beginners but is also very in-depth covering every aspect of special relativity. I liked the look of "Spacetime Physics: Introduction to Special Relativity" but I'm not saw if it goes into as much depth as I'd like (by the looks of the reviews). How much detail does that book go into?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2011 #2
    That is the book by Taylor and Wheeler, right? I have a red paperback first edition that has all the solutions in the back. It will give you a strong foundation to built on. But as you suspected it doesn't go into much depth. It introduces only two 4-vectors: the position-time and momentum-energy 4-vectors. No field theories or optics. Still, I think it's the best one our there for beginners.

    Rindler may be good.

    For the mathematical detail, I find Naber great. It has the derivation of the Lorentz transformations from a causality assumption from the paper "Causality Implies the Lorentz Group" by Zeeman as well.

    Szekeres also has a chapter (~20 pages) devoted to the mathematics of SR.
  4. Dec 30, 2011 #3
    I like the look of "The Geometry of Minkowski Spacetime" but it looks like it starts a bit heavy. Would you recommend getting the Spacetime physics book as a starter before?
  5. Dec 30, 2011 #4
    Naber's The Geometry of Spacetime is too abstruse for me to recommend for anyone. Even for one mathematically minded and well versed in special relativity.

    If you are looking for a nice in-depth (but somewhat overly concise) text, I strongly suggest Woodhouse's Special Relativity. If you have knowledge on electrodynamics, I suggest you read the original papers on special relativity. That is, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies by Einstein and On the Dynamics of the Electron by Poincare (English translations are freely available over the internet). Pauli's Theory of Relativity is also very insightful. Also consider Reflections on Relativity which provides amazing philosophical and historical insight.
  6. Dec 31, 2011 #5
    Yes, The Geometry of Minkowski Spacetime is heavy. In fact, you may not need it at all. I said that it's for the mathematical details. And yes, I think Spacetime Physics is the best starter. The only concern is whether you want to buy something that will not last long as a reference. (I bought mine for $10 so it wasn't a problem.)

    Also please look into Snicker's recommendations. I have never read Woodhouse's Special Relativity but I like his analytical mechanics book a lot.
  7. Dec 31, 2011 #6


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    Now that Lieber's "The Einstein Theory of Relativity" is back in print it's worth taking a look at for an introduction to both special and general relativity at an introductory mathematical level.
  8. Jan 1, 2012 #7
    Try to read the first 46 pages of Landau/Lifshitz 'The Classical Theory of Fields' before reading anything else, I wish I had.
    Maybe read it concurrently with Susskind's SR lectures:
    As for an SR text emphasizing the geometric viewpoint in Susskind's lectures, well The Geometry of Spacetime is the best thing I could find.
    The most mathematical book I found is Naber's Geometry of Minkowski Spacetime.
    As for a problems book: Special Relativity: An Introduction with 200 Problems and Solutions
    Mix all this with Spacetime Physics & I'd think you'd be getting enough of a varied viewpoint.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  9. Oct 9, 2012 #8

    I apologize if I am hijacking this post. I am new to Physics Forums, and I do not know how to start a new thread to ask my question. I was hoping to ask a few questions related to the above questions - special relativity, general relativity, etc.

    I am currently a twelve-year old, and I am interested in learning about Relativity. I have heard that there are two main fields relativity is divided into - special relativity, and general relativity. Although some people have said that general relativity is considerably harder than special relativity, I am not sure if I even have the knowledge required to understand either fields in the first place.

    I have taken a Calculus I/II course and a rather limited AP level Physics course. I have an excellent Physics teacher to help me. Would this level of knowledge in mathematics and Physics be enough to get me started on Special relativity? My goal for Physics is to learn all the math and Physics necessary needed for learning Quantum Physics/accelerator Physics by the time I am fourteen.

    Once again, I apologize for rudely interrupting this thread. (It would be very helpful if you gave me some tips on how to start a new thread.) Please excuse me if I am making unplausible or ignorant claims, as I am not familiar with Modern Physics.

    Thank You.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2013
  10. Oct 9, 2012 #9


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    I answered this question in response to your other post, in the relativity forum.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
  11. Oct 11, 2012 #10
    You might want to check out the recent book Einstein's Theory: A Rigorous Introduction for the Mathematically Untrained
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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