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Recommended books on relativity

  1. Sep 11, 2014 #1
    Dear Physics Forum community,
    I teach AP Physics and general physics at a small independent school. One of my colleagues asked me if I could recommend a book on relativity for the son of a friend, who is a bright 11th grade student. Sadly, I have not read many books in the popular science literature that deal with relativity. Could any of you recommend a book or books dealing with special and/or general relativity that is pitched at a high school level? I would imagine that books dealing with the implications of relativity or of thought experiments would be of particular interest in this case.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It was a long long time ago that I was in the eleventh grade, but I got a lot out of Taylor and Wheeler's "Spacetime Physics" back then.
  4. Sep 11, 2014 #3
    For special relativity:

    Takeuchi, An Illustrated Guide to Relativity

    N. David Mermin, It's About Time requires nothing more than some algebra, and works out the theory carefully.

    Tevian Dray, The Geometry of Special Relativity. More math (hyperbolic functions), but also a more geometrical outlook in preparation for GR.

    For GR it's tougher to find books that are at an appropriate level but that are not superficial. It also requires more general physics background. A good semi-popular book is

    Schutz, Gravity from the Ground Up: An Introductory Guide to Gravity and General Relativity

    Taylor & Wheeler, Exploring Black Holes: Introduction to General Relativity might work with some preparation in SR.

    These books look interesting, but I haven't tried them:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Sep 11, 2014 #4
    Great suggestions, Nugatory and Daverz!
  6. Sep 12, 2014 #5


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    One of the greatest (semi-)popular books written about relativity is

    Max Born, Einstein's Theory of Relativity

    It's written in the 1920ies, and Born gave the income from this book to save the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Frankfurt of which he was the director at the time and which was in big trouble because of the inflation at this time.

    The trick is NOT to avoid mathematics, but use mathematics at the high-school level (however at high-school level of the 1920ies!).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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