- 8,99 €
With this reader-friendly book, it doesn't take an Einstein to understand the theory of relativity and its remarkable consequences.
In clear, understandable terms, physicist Richard Wolfson explores the ideas at the heart of relativity and shows how they lead to such seeming absurdities as time travel, curved space, black holes, and new meaning for the idea of past and future. Drawing from years of teaching modern physics to nonscientists, Wolfson explains in a lively, conversational style the simple principles underlying Einstein's theory.
Relativity, Wolfson shows, gave us a new view of space and time, opening the door to questions about their flexible nature: Is the universe finite or infinite? Will it expand forever or eventually collapse in a "big crunch"? Is time travel possible? What goes on inside a black hole? How does gravity really work? These questions at the forefront of twenty-first-century physics are all rooted in the profound and sweeping vision of Albert Einstein's early twentieth-century theory. Wolfson leads his readers on an intellectual journey that culminates in a universe made almost unimaginably rich by the principles that Einstein first discovered.
Wolfson, a physics professor at Middlebury College, takes the fear out of Einstein's relativity theory in this brisk piece of pop science. The author uses a tennis game on Venus and a cup of hot tea to elucidate the basics of relativity, i.e., that the laws of physics are the same regardless of one's state of motion. Wolfson's economy and his handiness with hip, offbeat examples make this slim book a mind-bendingly satisfying read. The author's tutorial on the history of physics reminds readers that all the big names up to the late 19th century Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, etc. were concerned with the question of motion, whether of celestial bodies, falling apples or waves of light. He then shows why it required a genius like Einstein to arrive at such a simple idea as relativity. The most well-known and seemingly counterintuitive consequence of Einstein's thought, which Wolfson renders perfectly sensible, is the notion that space and time are not absolute but instead relative to one's frame of reference. The author then addresses the problem of gravity in Einstein's theory, which led the German scientist to develop his general theory of relativity. For readers, this means warped and rippling spacetime, black holes, and expanding and parallel universes. Wolfson's economical and vivid tutorial should open doors for lay readers encountering Einstein's principles for the first time. His popular style, with a minimum of math, should make this a must-have book for Einstein buffs as well. 48 illus.