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Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care? ) Paperback – 13 Jul 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 321 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (13 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306818760
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306818769
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,416,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Blogcritics.org, 8/22/10
"Cox and Forshaw make a good point in stating that space, time, and even nature are contained within the equation...Although the theory might be tricky, the authors show they understand readers are not on their level. By going one step at a time, the buildup ensures each chuck is absorbed slowly rather than all at once."Booktrade.info, 8/24/10
"This book takes the world's most famous equation apart and puts it back together again in a way that is lively and understandable. We were delighted to find our knowledge of equations--long forgotten since leaving school for some of us--reinvigorated and felt ourselves rediscovering our enjoyment of mathematics." "Choice," September 2010"Thorough, engaging." "New Scientist," 8/28/10"Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw tackle the most famous equation of all time in a remarkable comprehensible way...The pair make some surprising points that I haven't seen expressed in quite the same way...Well worth a read." "January, " 8/16/10"Particle physics professor Brian Cox and professor of theoretical physics, Jeff Forshaw are clearly trained to have the answers. But here's something that training as a physicist simply can not teach: they deliver their message not only clearly, but with a deep and resonant humor." BiblioBuffet.com"[Cox and Forshaw are] good communicators overall (they find understandable ways of explaining most concepts) and they have important things to say...What's important about this book is not that it says something new about science. It's that it gives a primer for understanding how a certain type of scientist sees the universe." "New York"" Journal of Books""[An] easy-to-read little book...[Cox and Forshaw] very cleverly introduce all the ideas we will need to get to the world's most famous equation, E=mc2. What is more, they focus on the most puzzling part: the question of what c, the speed of light, is doing in there...Their arguments are so presented so clearly...It is to their credit that they do not always hide the complexity nor the long history of ideas behind relativity...It is also to their credit that they make the case, as Feynman and others have done before them, that, at some level, the weirdness of the universe just has to be accepted...Will help school science teachers as much as it will their students." "The Guardian, "10/18/10"The reader is in supremely capable hands with Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw...For anyone afraid of technicalities, Cox and Forshaw lead the reader by the hand through the complexity, adding in rest stops of wit and real-world examples. Even the hardest bits feel like being taken on an army assault course by the two friendliest drill sergeants in the world. You may have to read some bits twice but, boy, will you feel better for it once the insights become clear. In the process of exposing the science, the authors do a good job of showing how the hard end of research works: abandon all assumptions and re-build everything from scratch.""
London"" Daily Telegraph," 10/19/10"[A] brilliant exposition of Einstein's famous equation... [Gives] a fresh understanding of Einstein's genius. A truly impressive achievement.""
The Independent, "10/20/10"Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw take Einstein's description of the relationship between energy and matter, pull it apart and put it together again, with some detours into space and time along the way. Not an easy read, but not an easy subject." "Nature," 10/28/10"Provide[s] an accessible explanation of Einstein's iconic equation." "Cape"" Times "(South Africa),11/5/10"Fans of the physical sciences will undoubtedly enjoy this read...The true success of "Why Does E=mc2?" lies in Cox and Forshaw having made the most esoteric of ideas...accessible to the layman...The pair manage to hold their readers' hands as they skip through the figures and facts--without patronizing them--to create a logical map between theory and consequence." "Midwest"" Book Review," December 2010
"An easy survey of science for non-scientists.""
""London"" Times" (UK), 1/6/11Name one of the "Top 10 Science Books of 2010." "The Scotsman" (Scotland), 12/11/10Named one of the "Top Reads of 2010." "The Bookseller," UK, 3/25/11"[Cox] will join an elite group of just eight authors who've penned a science book that has sold in six figures."

Blogcritics.org, 8/22/10
Cox and Forshaw make a good point in stating that space, time, and even nature are contained within the equation Although the theory might be tricky, the authors show they understand readers are not on their level. By going one step at a time, the buildup ensures each chuck is absorbed slowly rather than all at once. Booktrade.info, 8/24/10
This book takes the world s most famous equation apart and puts it back together again in a way that is lively and understandable. We were delighted to find our knowledge of equations long forgotten since leaving school for some of us reinvigorated and felt ourselves rediscovering our enjoyment of mathematics. "Choice," September 2010 Thorough, engaging. "New Scientist," 8/28/10 Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw tackle the most famous equation of all time in a remarkable comprehensible way The pair make some surprising points that I haven t seen expressed in quite the same way Well worth a read. "January, " 8/16/10 Particle physics professor Brian Cox and professor of theoretical physics, Jeff Forshaw are clearly trained to have the answers. But here's something that training as a physicist simply can not teach: they deliver their message not only clearly, but with a deep and resonant humor. BiblioBuffet.com [Cox and Forshaw are] good communicators overall (they find understandable ways of explaining most concepts) and they have important things to say What s important about this book is not that it says something new about science. It s that it gives a primer for understanding how a certain type of scientist sees the universe. "New York"" Journal of Books" [An] easy-to-read little book [Cox and Forshaw] very cleverly introduce all the ideas we will need to get to the world s most famous equation, E=mc2. What is more, they focus on the most puzzling part: the question of what c, the speed of light, is doing in there Their arguments are so presented so clearly It is to their credit that they do not always hide the complexity nor the long history of ideas behind relativity It is also to their credit that they make the case, as Feynman and others have done before them, that, at some level, the weirdness of the universe just has to be accepted Will help school science teachers as much as it will their students. "The Guardian, "10/18/10 The reader is in supremely capable hands with Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw For anyone afraid of technicalities, Cox and Forshaw lead the reader by the hand through the complexity, adding in rest stops of wit and real-world examples. Even the hardest bits feel like being taken on an army assault course by the two friendliest drill sergeants in the world. You may have to read some bits twice but, boy, will you feel better for it once the insights become clear. In the process of exposing the science, the authors do a good job of showing how the hard end of research works: abandon all assumptions and re-build everything from scratch. "
London"" Daily Telegraph," 10/19/10 [A] brilliant exposition of Einstein s famous equation [Gives] a fresh understanding of Einstein s genius. A truly impressive achievement. "
The Independent, "10/20/10 Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw take Einstein's description of the relationship between energy and matter, pull it apart and put it together again, with some detours into space and time along the way. Not an easy read, but not an easy subject. "Nature," 10/28/10 Provide[s] an accessible explanation of Einstein s iconic equation. "Cape"" Times "(South Africa),11/5/10 Fans of the physical sciences will undoubtedly enjoy this read The true success of "Why Does E=mc2?" lies in Cox and Forshaw having made the most esoteric of ideas accessible to the layman The pair manage to hold their readers' hands as they skip through the figures and facts without patronizing them to create a logical map between theory and consequence. "Midwest"" Book Review," December 2010
An easy survey of science for non-scientists. "
""London"" Times" (UK), 1/6/11Name one of the Top 10 Science Books of 2010. "The Scotsman" (Scotland), 12/11/10Named one of the Top Reads of 2010. "The Bookseller," UK, 3/25/11 [Cox] will join an elite group of just eight authors who ve penned a science book that has sold in six figures. "

Review

"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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Before I start this review, just let me tell you where I stand re: popular science. I'm a complete beginner! The most amateur of amateurs. I'm intrigued, interested verging on passionate - but I've only read a handful of science books. So, I came to this book knowing nothing about the famous equation other than "energy equals mass times the speed of light squared" which, pre facto, was pretty much meaningless to me.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. Recommended by my son who is interested in all things cosmic, I anticipated a better understanding of modern physics, something I never got to grips with at school.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
With so many books to read and so little time to read them, it's rare to find one worthy of being read repeatedly; however, for me, why does E=mc² certainly fits into that category and I found my latest reading to be just as enjoyable as the first. Undoubtedly, Cox and Forshaw have produced one of the outstanding introductory texts to Einstein's theories of relativity, presenting their arguments in an absorbing prose that stimulates the imagination and challenges one's intellect. That said, this book is not without its shortcomings and, consequently, I am not quite convinced that it qualifies as a popular science "classic".

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This book will delight anyone, of any age possessing an enquiring mind and has ever wondered what theoretical physicists get up to. The authors make it clear that this book does not teach the reader mathematics. However, it may inspire some to seek out the knowledge required to appreciate the detail. It would have been a bonus if an appendix had been included providing a little more detail on, for example, transformation of equations. From cover to cover the authors communicate their enthusiasm for the subject matter with humour. They state their desire was to produce a book that allows non-scientists to understand Einstein's beautiful theories. How successful they have been will clearly depend on the individual reader. What they undoubtedly do achieve is an appreciation of the giants of science, both ancient and modern. The reader is left with a clear appreciation of the underlying foundation principle of science i.e. any theory, however well loved and respected, survives only as long as it is supported by experimental evidence. It may be that all the subject matter contained within this book will need to be significnatly revised or abandoned sometime in the future. This reader is beginning to share the excitement amongst theoretical physicists as to whether the Higgs particle will be discovered in the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. Highly recommended.
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