Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Simply Einstein: Relativity Demystified

  1. Aug 25, 2004 #1
    Simply Einstein: Relativity Demystified
    by Richard Wolfson

    Undoubtedly one of the best primers on special and general relatively in my view. Finished reading it a few weeks back and am delighting in dipping into various sections again. By far the best book i've read on the topic so far - and i've read a few!

    No baffling equations (the one or two that are in the book are easily understood - i surprised even myself! There's some higher math in the optional appendix on Time Dilation), a step-by-step build up of each salient point, wonderfully clear explanations and diagrams, and the author's conversational writing style, all contribute towards a book that, as one reviewer put it, "takes the fear out of Einstein's relativity theory."

    Wolfson provides a useful and enjoyable historical overview, introducing all the key players through the years (Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein et al) and shows how their individual work contributed to the bigger picture... the section on Maxwell is superb.

    A selection from the table of contents: Ether Dreams, Stretching Time, Star Trips and Squeezed Space, Past, Present, Future, and ... Elsewhere, Faster than Light?, Is Everything Relative?, A Problem of Gravity, Einstein's Universe... and more.

    Certainly, i think most readers will attain a good, overall grounding in special relativity in particular, whilst a little more effort will be needed to get an equally good grasp of general relativity.

    I can highly recommend this book.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2004 #2
    What other books have you read in the field that you are comparing it with

  4. Sep 2, 2004 #3
    Most recently:

    Einstein's Universe (Nigel Calder)

    E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation (David Bodanis)

    Introducing Relativity (Bruce Bassett et al)

    Plus specific chapters touching on relativity in:

    The Elegant Universe (Brian Greene)

    Light Years (Brian Clegg)

    Frozen Star (George Greenstein)
  5. Apr 24, 2011 #4
    So can I, along with Einstein's Mirror and Spacetime Physics by Taylor and Wheeler (which Wolfson said is at a slightly higher level, but still highly recommended).
  6. Apr 24, 2011 #5
    This sounds like a nice book. However to really understand relativity, it is going to take a bit of mathematics. Theories of physics rely heavily on mathematics, and without learning this, you will only be able to have a sort of qualitative understanding of physics. If you would like to begin to study relativity in a more quantitative and exact setting, I recommend a book written by David Mermin called "Its About Time". There is math involved, but it is well worth it to learn it. I found this book considerably more understandable than the textbook we used in my modern physics course.
  7. Apr 24, 2011 #6
    And if you would like to have a more detailed look at special and general relativity, I am going to recommend a very nice book written by Abraham Pais, with a forward by Roger Penrose. It is called: Subtle is the Lord.

    It is actually a scientific biography of Albert Einstein. It also has chapters discussing his work with brownian motion and the photoelectric effect. It is a very interesting book. If you really want some insight into the mind of einstein, I think that this is the book you should read. There is mathematics in the book, and some of it is advanced, however he has written the book in such a way that you do not need to completely follow the mathematics to enjoy it. But if you can follow the mathematics, I think you will enjoy it much more.
  8. Apr 24, 2011 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I also recommend The Einstein's Theory of Relativity by Lilian R Lieber. It has tensor calc, but it introduces it in such a way that it's still very readable, even as a bedside book (although, having a piece of paper to write some stuff out is still helpful).
  9. Apr 26, 2011 #8
    Yeah I know, I'm sure it's only a matter of time, it does seem like something is missing and I am looking forward to it.
  10. Apr 27, 2011 #9
    Anyway back to Rich Wolfson, his videos are scattered all over the internet.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook