Relativity: The Special and the General Theory: The Masterpiece Science Edition

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9780131862616: Relativity: The Special and the General Theory: The Masterpiece Science Edition

What could be better than an introduction to the theory of relativity by Albert Einstein himself? One that combines Einstein's original text, written for the layperson nearly a century ago, with insights from today's leading experts. Einstein shattered common-sense notions of space and time with the publication of his special theory of relativity in 1905. In the general theory of relativity, published in 1916, he extended the special theory to include gravity, supplanting Newton's law of universal gravitation, the zenith of the Scientific Revolution. In Relativity: The Special and General Theory, Einstein took his revolutionary theory directly to the people. In simple terms, he carefully laid out the basic concepts of relativity. But almost ninety years have passed since Einstein penned this classic; many advances have been made in our understanding of relativity and space and time. Robert Geroch, one of the world's preeminent experts on relativity, builds on Einstein's work with commentary that addresses the ideas at the heart of the theory, bringing a modern understanding of relativity to the text.

He elucidates how special relativity is a reconciliation of the contradictions between the nature of light and the principle of relativity (a long-standing tenet of physics known since Galileo's time); he expands on Einstein's treatment of the geometry of space-time and the fundamental notion of an "event"; he explains in detail, but without technical language, the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass, a cornerstone of general relativity. Roger Penrose's eloquent introduction frames the creation of both the special and the general theories in the history of science. He argues that even without Einstein, the special theory would have been formulated, as its essential ideas had been put forward before 1905. But the general theory, he shows, is so unique and revolutionary that, without Einstein, we still may not have it today. He also discusses important developments in general relativity since Einstein's death, and the significance of the theory from the vantage point of contemporary science. David C. Cassidy explores the impact of relativity outside of physics.

In a century of unprecedented scientific advances, yet one of great turmoil, violence, and disillusionment, relativity became a tool of ideologies. Cassidy shows that while the theory reinforced the idea of scientific progress for some, the counterintuitive nature of the theory alienated many nonscientists, opening a rift between science and the public that continues to grow today. Fully updated 100 years after Einstein published his first papers on relativity, this classic account by the man himself is now ready for twenty-first century readers. A(c) Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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About the Author:

Robert Geroch is Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. at Princeton University, and has held positions at the University of London, Syracuse University, and the University of Texas. He is the author of General Relativity From A to B.

Roger Penrose is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. He is the author of a number of books, including The Emperor's New Mind, The Nature of Space and Time (with Stephen Hawking), and The Road to Reality.

David C. Cassidy is a Professor in the Natural Science Program at Hofstra University. He served as Associate Editor of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, and is the author of Einstein and Our World, Uncertainty: The Life and Science of Werner Heisenberg, and J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century.


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Einstein, Albert; Penrose, Introduction by Roger; Geroch, Commentary by Robert; Cassidy, Historical Essay by David C.
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