Why Does E=mc2? Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
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To get at the origins of E=mc2, the poster-child for Einsteins's special theory of relativity, [Cox and Forshaw] must delve into deep principles of science and wield a good deal of mathematics. They do it well...They have blazed a clear trail into forbidding territory, from the mathematical structure of space-time all the way to atom bombs, astrophysics and the origin of mass. --The New Scientist
"The authors do a great job of answering the question in the book's title, and of tying it to the cutting edge of 21st century physics. But they do much more besides. First, they give a real sense of revelation as the<BR>equation emerges from the seemingly unrelated concepts of space and time. Second, they're not afraid to take on questions often asked about the equation."<BR> --BBC Focus Magazine
Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, two physicists, have managed to produce an account of relativity physics accessible to a wide range of various publics. If you're not a physicist (or not yet a physicist) and you want to understand what Einstein and relativity theory are all about, you would do well to read this book. The writing is clear, sparkling in places, and totally without vanity. Relativity theory, Einstein's supreme gift to us, is at the heart of the way science currently looks at physical reality, and anyone with an adventurous mind should be intrigued by what two smart physicists say about it in plain language... Read this book. It's your world, isn't it? <BR> --The Huffington Post
"The authors do a great job of answering the question in the book's title, and of tying it to the cutting edge of 21st century physics. But they do much more besides. First, they give a real sense of revelation as the
equation emerges from the seemingly unrelated concepts of space and time. Second, they're not afraid to take on questions often asked about the equation."
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
As I understand it, the success of this book varies wildly depending on the individual reader's pre-existing knowledge of science/quantum physics etc. As such, this is a review for people like me: utter beginners in the field.
In brief: the first half of the book is brilliant! Informative, well-written and mind-blowing in the way that high-concept astronomy often is. The second half of the book, however, is an incredibly difficult, long-winded explanation of vectors and the so-called 'master equation', most of which flew right over my head. I read it all, and bits of it made sense to me but, like many people here; this just feels like two books. The first half is clearly for people like me (beginners) whereas the second half is a radically different reading experience, which I imagine is much more suited to hardened afficianados of popular science.
Now for more detail: The first 150 pages or so don't explain the famous equation, as such; rather, they explain the things we *need* to know in order to understand the equation; such as the relative nature of time and space. All of this is articulated with very helpful diagrams, metaphors and fictional anecdotes. Any basic maths here (such as Pythagoras) is re-capped for the forgetful student(i.e. me) and parts of the book are also strikingly funny.Read more ›
It wasn't an easy read because of the formulae and maths - I think a few more occasions where the formulae were written out in words would have helped. I found myself having to flip back to remember what the letters stood for until they eventually sunk in.
Having said that, once past the fog, it was great, and very satisfying to gain some understanding of curved space, mass and the speed of light. Now I wish I had paid more attention at school. The writing style is entertaining, engaging and not at all patronising.A great journey, well guided - I intend to read it again to make sure it stays in my head.
Firstly, whilst acknowledging that Cox and Forshaw did not intend to write "a book about mathematics", the concept of special relativity does benefit from a comprehensive mathematical explanation: its simplicity is what makes the idea so beautiful and the authors fail their readers by simply presenting information without bothering to demonstrate its derivation (for instance, the time dilation equation (p.127)). In essence, readers without the requisite scientific or mathematical training are simply required to accept such assertions (or seek their explanations elsewhere) and that dilutes the impact of the reasoning. Ironically, this is as much a presentational failing as anything else and the authors could have avoided this problem, without a significant increase in explanatory text, by simply improving the quality of some diagrams and including the stepwise transformations of Pythagoras' theorem.
Secondly, notwithstanding my (genuine) praise for the authors' lucidity, there are times when the prose becomes unnecessarily convoluted.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Science made simple for the non-scientifically minded. A book that could be understood by anyone and who was willing to accept that science can be simple and great things can come... Read morePublished 1 month ago
I got this book because I wanted to know the answer to the question, and I thought that Brian Cox, being a modern popular physicist, might be the person to kelp me understand the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mike707
I bought this book for my Dad as he's interested in all things science and likes Brian Cox. It's a great book and he was really pleased with the giftPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A very well written book by a writer who clearly has a mastery of his subject couplrd with a first class grasp on how to put it across. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Informative, easy to understand, no frustratingly awkward scientific jargon and PhD in mathematics not required! Brilliant read!Published 4 months ago by Dave McGowan