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The Manga Guide to Relativity Paperback – 25 Apr 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (25 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593272723
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593272722
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 367,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Hideo Nitta, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Physics at Tokyo Gakugei University. He has had many papers and books published by Japanese and overseas publishers on subjects including quantum dynamics and radiation physics. He also has a strong interest in physics education. He is a member of the International Commission on Physics Education (ICPE), which is a commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).

Masafumi Yamamoto earned his PhD in Applied Physics from the Graduate School of Engineering at Hokkaido University. His numerous publications include books on physics, electromagnetism, and lasers.

Trend Pro, Inc. is a pioneer of Ad-Manga--advertisement and advertising using Manga--in Japan. The company has produced over 1,700 Ad-Manga for over 700 clients, including many well-known public companies and government agencies. The company has over 100 registered professional Manga artists.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First off, let me set the expectation here. I'm a software tester by trade. I'm fan of science (as opposed to being a scientist). I'm also a huge fan of Japanese animation, which is commonly referred to in America as "Anime" in its video format, and "manga" in its illustrated paper format. In short, yes, I'm a grown man who enjoys comic books and I have absolutely no shame in saying that whatsoever ;).

Anime and manga is used to reach many audiences in Japan; it's not just geared towards kids. Stories range from the fanciful to the dark and gritty. In between, every conceivable topic and interest is covered and illustrated in a way that grabs attention, entertains, and helps inform the readers on an emotional level.

This combination of storytelling, emotion, quirky characters and an illustration style that's both cute and engaging helps lend it to the idea that "hard topics" can be discussed using manga, and that the topic will be much more engaging for the reader. "the Manga Guide to..." series is an example of this, and covers a broad variety of interesting, difficult and sometimes downright geeky topics. In some ways, "The Manga Guide to..." series can be seen as being on par with "Standard Deviants".

The most recent title, "The Manga Guide to Relativity" (written by Hideo Nitta, Masafumi Yamamoto and Keita Takatsu) uses the classic story techniques common to most fans of manga; student body president Ruka Minagi takes on a challenge from Rase Iyaga, the sadistic and capricious school headmaster (who also has a penchant towards androgyny, but hey, for anyone with more than a passing familiarity with Manga titles, this is par for the course) to write a report about relativity, thus sparing the rest of the class from having to do it over summer break.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a student that has just finished his A levels and will be entering university to study Physics later this month.
As a physics student who has a great interest in manga (I read loads!) I decided this would be a great way to teach myself bits of relativity before my course.
I've read several physics books reading this one which had material on relativity, although they were rather scattered, my knowledge of relativity had come form several books such as George Gamow, Brian Greene, etc. They all had good analogies and methods of explaining the concepts to me, although the book itself wasn't focused around relativity itself.
So I certainly found this manga guide to be good material for readers to understand relativity from one single book rather than going through several.

The ways the concepts are explained are extremely helpful since they are all done through diagrams and drawings which can fire ones imagination to imagine the actual effects of relativity taking place (i.e length contraction, mass increase, slowing down of time, etc).

In the end of each chapter there are a few pages dedicated to the theory and mathematics behind it.
The mathematics and theory behind it is rather simple, where proofs are shown and how these basic equations are used to give the right results.
If you don't completely understand the equations and proofs, that isn't a huge issue, you can always move on and read the rest, after all the important part is understanding the concepts itself otherwise everything else will just seem super confusing! Working out the maths and theory later isn't a problem.

Of course I need to write something about the manga itself!
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Format: Paperback
Wow! This is a booked that's really packed to the gills whether you are looking for information or fabulously clichéd manga tropes. Over the top malevolently evil though strangely androgynous headmaster - check. Noble leader of the student body who takes on the headmaster - check. Gratuitous bikini wearing- check. Right now we've covered (some) of the manga-isms on to the relativity part. Once again things are impressively packed in here too. Einstein is introduced on page 25 of the first chapter and by that time you will have met the concepts of general and special relativity; inertial and non inertial frames of reference; the relationship of mass, space, time and gravity; the Galilean principle of relativity; the law of inertia; Newton's laws of motion; Maxwell's equations; ether and the co-ordinate system. Thankfully the rest of the book is slightly less full on. There are four chapters to the book, but they are fairly arbitrary given that they all address a single topic. We have an introduction to relativity, time dilation effects, mass and length changes with speed and round up on general relativity.

Each chapter follows the now standard "manga guide" format of an animated story to introduce the concepts backed by a set of more formal notes which clarify and expand on those concepts.

This is the third of the manga guide series that I've read and most certainly the most conceptually complex of the three but it still manages to maintain and lightness of tone and clean, clear writing style which has characterised the rest of the series. While my physics is far too many years ago I still found this book a readable and understandable to relativity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8be1d654) out of 5 stars 18 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bea5654) out of 5 stars Manga Guide to Relativity Delivers! 25 April 2011
By Michael Larsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First off, let me set the expectation here. I'm a software tester by trade. I'm fan of science (as opposed to being a scientist). I'm also a huge fan of Japanese animation, which is commonly referred to in America as "Anime" in its video format, and "manga" in its illustrated paper format. In short, yes, I'm a grown man who enjoys comic books and I have absolutely no shame in saying that whatsoever ;).

Anime and manga is used to reach many audiences in Japan; it's not just geared towards kids. Stories range from the fanciful to the dark and gritty. In between, every conceivable topic and interest is covered and illustrated in a way that grabs attention, entertains, and helps inform the readers on an emotional level.

This combination of storytelling, emotion, quirky characters and an illustration style that's both cute and engaging helps lend it to the idea that "hard topics" can be discussed using manga, and that the topic will be much more engaging for the reader. "the Manga Guide to..." series is an example of this, and covers a broad variety of interesting, difficult and sometimes downright geeky topics. In some ways, "The Manga Guide to..." series can be seen as being on par with "Standard Deviants".

The most recent title, "The Manga Guide to Relativity" (written by Hideo Nitta, Masafumi Yamamoto and Keita Takatsu) uses the classic story techniques common to most fans of manga; student body president Ruka Minagi takes on a challenge from Rase Iyaga, the sadistic and capricious school headmaster (who also has a penchant towards androgyny, but hey, for anyone with more than a passing familiarity with Manga titles, this is par for the course) to write a report about relativity, thus sparing the rest of the class from having to do it over summer break. If he succeeds, the rest of the class will be spared the assignment. If he fails, he has to agree to be Iyaga's "personal assistant" for the next school year. All is not lost, though, as Physics teacher Alisa Uraga agrees to teach Minagi about relativity so that he can complete the challenge. With that, an adventure begins.

During this process, the reader almost forgets that they are actually looking at a topic that is fairly challenging to explain, the theories of Special and General Relativity. Instead the focus is on a fun and engaging story (and not a few quirky characters... did I mention the Vice Headmaster is a dog? OK, I'll mention it).

So can a "comic book" really teach us one of the trickier scientific topics? Let's find out...

What is Relativity?

The first chapter helps us get into the mindset of our protagonist Minagi and his sensei Uraga as they discuss the differences between special and general relativity. The history of relativity from Galileo and Newton on through Einstein and the idea that the speed of light is a constant and the fact that all reality is in constant motion is explored. The illustrations are both cute and informative, and help fill in the blanks for many of the concepts that might be difficult to visualize any other way. At the end of the chapter a full breakdown of the concepts and some background information is presented again to help drill home the ideas (this also allows those who want to have a nice outline and paragraph explanation of the principles a chance to get that along with Minagi's exploits).

What Do You Mean Time Slows Down?

A Japanese fable leads off this section, the story of Urashima Taro. the legend tells about a man who rescues a turtle and brings him to the undersea palace of the dragon god. When he returns home back to land, instead of a few days having passed, several hundred years have passed. This idea is called the Urashima Effect in Japan, and is called the Rip Van Winkle effect in western countries. In both cases, the concept covered is Time Dilation.Time dilation is the situation where as an object approaches the speed of light, time slows down for the object. the manga guide uses an imaginary device called a "light clock" to help define how this idea works. this is further emphasized with a visual idea of the Twin Paradox, where a twin goes on a space voyage for a year at light speed and returns to Earth, and sees that their twin has aged by several years in their absence.

The Faster an Object Moves, the Shorter and Heavier It Becomes?

Wow, Sensei Uraga looks pretty hot in a bikini... have I piqued your attention yet ;)? Hey, it's a manga, what can I tell you? OK, back to the topic... Sensei Uraga continues the discussion with the idea that, when an object gets towards the speed of light, it contracts (and demonstrates in a breakdown the equation necessary to prove this idea, i.e. the Lorentz Contraction).Space and time are said to contract based on this theory of specific relativity (remember, thus far that's what we've been looking at, general relativity comes later) and because of this, we need to look at Space and time as not separate entities, but interlocking entities.additionally, objects get progressively heavier as they approach the speed of light (except for light, which by its very nature is assumed to have a mass of zero for it to work the way it does). Incidentally, this is why it is believed that no object of any measurable mass will ever get to break through the light barrier (science fiction story writers and Start Trek fans notwithstanding. the relationship between mass and energy are also discussed here (the famous E = mc^2 equation and what it really refers to).

What Is General Relativity?

Special relativity takes the idea that gravity and motion for an object travels in a straight line. General relativity is more mathematically complicated, because the gravity of nearby objects (such as stars) has a direct effect on the object in motion, and that gravity has to be accounted for. In addition, light "bends" as it makes its way around an object with a large gravitational pull. Time also slows down as it passes such a large gravitational pull as well.The idea is called the Equivalence Principal and states that "the inertial force accompanying accelerated motion is indistinguishable from gravity, and therefore, they are the same." This is compared to the feeling of pressure you feel in an accelerating and decelerating train, or in an elevator as it goes up and down, or on an amusement park ride like the spinning swings. A demonstration is shown where a bowling ball is placed on a tightly pulled rubber sheet. When the bowling ball is placed on the sheet, the sheet indents to make room for the ball. Put another one on the same sheet at the opposite end of the sheet, and it will make its own indentation. Gie enough time, and the balls will slowly move towards each other. This shows that gravity is really the bending and warping of space (yeah , I had to read that one a few times :) ). General relativity also takes into account that matter, space and time all have interactive relationships, and while it's a "theory" there are devices we use everyday that depend on this theory and in its actions prove it works (GPS, anyone :)?). We can really take this to the mind bending level of looking at the universe (by the theory of General Relativity, observations indicate our universe is expanding).

Bottom Line:

That's a lot of detail packed into a manga. the cool thing is that it's entertaining, fun to read, and in many ways, the ideas and theories come naturally, and it's only when you put down the book and realize "wait a minute... did we just cover what I think we covered?!" That's the great success of this book, in that you learn new ideas and concepts without really having to think about it too much. You're having too much fun to realize how much you are learning. On that level, The Manga Guide to Relativity succeeds very well. So how does Minagi do on his report? Can sensei Uraga deliver the goods? And what is it about that dog, anyway?! For answers to those riddles (and many others within the Relativity metaverse), you'll just have to pick up a copy of The Manga Guide to Relativity and find out for yourself.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8beacf6c) out of 5 stars Silly story, but GREAT content presented clearly 18 May 2011
By M. Helmke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Manga Guide to Relativity follows the actions of a high school class president who steps in to save the rest of the students at the school who were being threatened by the school headmaster with a punishment for their lack of scholastic success. To save them, the brave student leader agrees to take a special summer course on relativity and write a report for the headmaster. The student doesn't know what relativity is, but a kind and attractive teacher volunteers to teach him all about it. The story line is okay, but not as good as some of the other stories in the series. However, it still succeeds in its main task of easing the reader into the topic.

The book covers all the main questions and topics you would expect such as the definition of relativity, the Urashima Effect (where times slows down as speed approaches the speed of light), mass and the contraction of length (again, as speed approaches the speed of light),and the difference between Special Relativity and General Relativity. Each chapter contains a manga section with an introduction to and discussion of the topic. This is followed in each chapter by a more detailed and technical section filled with equations and deeper explorations of the chapter's subject.

I've studies physics, and although I am rusty, I believe the book is accurate and it is quite clear. The story created to assist with that presentation is kind of silly, but does fulfill its mission of making a difficult topic a bit more approachable and the science communicated in both the manga and the technical sections is clear and well expressed.

My kids are too young to really understand all of the details of the topics covered in this series, but they continue to read the books with great interest. Most of the science is above the grade level even of my oldest (age 9), but their attention remains fixed on the art and the story and the kids are absorbing some of it as they read.

Overall, I would say the book is a success and recommend it without reservation for anyone wanting an accessible introduction to Einstein's Theory of Relativity and how it changed our understanding of physics.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8beda024) out of 5 stars Amazing book on relativity 14 Dec. 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked this book. It's an illustrated story about the student body president who volunteers to learn about relativity from the cute physics teacher, in order to save the rest of the class from punishment from the cruel principal.

Since I've read this book, I've read a few other books on relativity, and this is by far the best book. I highly recommend it to everyone, since relativity is an ill understood topic that everyone should really know about.

I thought the manga format of this story was wonderful, as it quickly takes us into space, and quickly back to Earth. This illustrates some otherwise difficult concepts that are hard to visualize without jumping out into space, and then coming quickly back to Earth to apply them. Even though it's manga, it has a lot of pages of technical details, so this book has some good content, and isn't just a quick read.

Pros:
+Great artwork
+Great story
+The best introduction to relativity that there is!

Cons:
-The technical details in the fine-print pages take a long time to read
-Spends almost all of the time on specific relativity, and skims over general relativity
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bed7f6c) out of 5 stars Wrong Topic For Manga Guide 29 Aug. 2011
By Dan McKinnon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed some of the other Manga guides as it relates to Physics, Math, etc but I feel that this book takes one of the most difficult concepts in science to understand and doesn't accomplish what it tries to do: serve it up for the masses to understand. I appreciate the effort, but I feel that for a topic like this, it simply doesn't work. The guide is cute and the author makes a nice attempt, but I can't recommend this Manga guide due to the complexity of the content.

***
HASH(0x8bee33c0) out of 5 stars Just okay; probably very good for neophytes 19 Dec. 2013
By Clarke Waldron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I expected that via the medium of manga, the subject of relativity could be more clearly explained or covered in a different manner from the usual mode of textbooks. However, there were a few blocks of pure text that more or less duplicated the work of textbooks.

On the other hand, perhaps I was expecting too much. I wanted to experience an epiphany of understanding but it never really happened for me. This may be due to the fact that relativity was not an entirely new subject to me. For someone new to the subject, it may be an insightful adventure.

I am still looking forward to the other books in the series of "The Manga Guide to...".
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