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Physical Relativity: Space-Time Structure from a Dynamical Perspective Paperback – 15 Dec 2007

3.2 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A. (15 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019923292X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199232925
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 1.5 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 457,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Review from previous edition Harvey Brown thinks that most philosophers are confused about relativity. Most centrally, he thinks they're confused about the relativistic effects of length contraction and time dilation. In this important book, he aims to set them straight... This is an intriguing alternative view about the nature of geometry. It should be taken seriously by anyone interested in the topic, and Brown's book will be the place to look for its articulation and defense. (Bradford Skow, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)


Physical Relativity explores the nature of the distinction at the heart of Einstein's 1905 formulation of his special theory of relativity: that between kinematics and dynamics. Einstein himself became increasingly uncomfortable with this distinction, and with the limitations of what he called the 'principle theory' approach inspired by the logic of thermodynamics. A handful of physicists and philosophers have over the last century likewise expressed doubts about Einstein's treatment of the relativistic behaviour of rigid bodies and clocks in motion in the kinematical part of his great paper, and suggested that the dynamical understanding of length contraction and time dilation intimated by the immediate precursors of Einstein is more fundamental. Harvey Brown both examines and extends these arguments (which support a more 'constructive' approach to relativistic effects in Einstein's terminology), after giving a careful analysis of key features of the pre-history of relativity theory. He argues furthermore that the geometrization of the theory by Minkowski in 1908 brought illumination, but not a causal explanation of relativistic effects.

Finally, Brown tries to show that the dynamical interpretation of special relativity defended in the book is consistent with the role this theory must play as a limiting case of Einstein's 1915 theory of gravity: the general theory of relativity. Physical Relativity is an original, critical examination of the way Einstein formulated his theory. It also examines in detail certain specific historical and conceptual issues that have long given rise to debate in both special and general relativity theory, such as the conventionality of simultaneity, the principle of general covariance, and the consistency or otherwise of the special theory with quantum mechanics. Harvey Brown' s new interpretation of relativity theory will interest anyone working on these central topics in modern physics.

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17 December 2016
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
20 August 2017
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1 July 2009
Format: Paperback
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
Reinaldo de Melo e Souza
5.0 out of 5 starsA very nice text regarding the foudations of relativity
10 July 2013 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
One person found this helpful.
Robert Shuler
4.0 out of 5 starscircling the relativity bush, trying not to step on toes
24 July 2014 - Published on Amazon.com
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David Savickas
4.0 out of 5 starsHistorical developments in relativity theory
17 August 2014 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
André Gargoura
1.0 out of 5 starsInteresting idea but deceptive exposition...
20 August 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
G. E. Stedman
5.0 out of 5 starsrelativity from a master
14 April 2010 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
4 people found this helpful.

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