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Relativity: The Special and the General Theory

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  9,062 ratings  ·  299 reviews
The Nobel Prize-winning scientist's presentation of his landmark theory
According to Einstein himself, this book is intended "to give an exact insight into the theory of Relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics.
Hardcover, 106 pages
Published 2007 by Signature Press (first published 1916)
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Riku Sayuj

Some years ago in France a book by Jean-François Gautier appeared, entitled Does the universe exist?.

Good question.

What if the universe were a concept like cosmic ether, or phlogiston, or the conspiracy of the Elders of Zion?

Philosophically, Gautier’s arguments make sense.

The idea of the universe, as the totality of the cosmos, is one that comes from the most ancient cosmographies, cosmologies, and cosmogonies. But can one describe, as if seeing it from above, something within which we are cont
Oct 27, 2007 Rob rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who already know about relativity
edit: i wrote the 4-star review below before reading the fifth appendix. i mean, who could imagine that an appendix could change anything? well, this one did. all the chapters in the body of the book are 2 or 3 pages. Appendix V is a 20-page essay, written 36 years after the rest of the book and just 3 years before einstein died. it is a tour de force on the history, philosophy, and psychology (i kid you not) of the scientific understanding of empty space. it was shocking, thrilling, amazing. th ...more
مديحة حوري
أول احتكاك فعلي بيني وبين نظرية النسبية وبالمعادلات الرياضية
أول كتاب قرأته في مكتبة الجيش لأينشتاين ومرفق بالمعادلات
استمتعت به
وهو أول من فتح لي باب التساؤل حول: كيف أصوغ معادلة بمنتهى البساطة
Erik Graff
Feb 28, 2015 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Peter Smith
Shelves: sciences
As a kid my serious interests were scientific. I collected feathers, insects, rocks and fossils; maintained an aerospace scrapbook; kept a journal about space exploration; and read a lot of science books ranging from popular stuff and textbooks to serious works from the library which I hardly understood. My greatest intellectual interests by junior high were in cosmology and astronomy.

During middle school, or possibly during the freshman year in high school, I started going to the library to rea
The theory of relativity is amazing and important, but contrary to what the tagline says, Einstein himself is probably not the best person to have explain it to you. I read this class for Freshman Studies in college, and I honestly have to admit that I wouldn't have gotten much of it without the significant aid of in-depth lectures and classroom discussions. This is not because the ideas themselves are too complex, but because Einstein fails in his attempt to make his ideas understood to a layma ...more
The aim of this book is to introduce people without a strong physics (or even scientific) background to the special and general theories of relativity - theories that Einstein was the primary developer of. Einstein assumes the reader has passes a "university matriculation exam." What that meant in the first half of the 20th Century, I don't know but in practice what's required is the level of algebra I had by age 16 plus a smattering of mentions of the square root of minus 1. I also found basic ...more
Dominika Kaníková
I hope that no one will ask me what was this book about .
Heather Cawte
Read on my Kindle, free from Project Gutenberg.

The biggest problem I had with this was actually one of presentation. The team which had prepared it for release had presented all the equations as jpegs, a reasonable idea when reading it in HTML, but not a good one when reading it on a Kindle! Still, who am I kidding - the equations probably wouldn't have made sense to me anyway....

I am an arts graduate trying to understand relativity. I've read Hawking, and I've read Cox, and I thought I should r
Sanjay Gautam
This book by Dr. Einstein is very well written, though you will find the anatomy of sentences a little unusual. Well this should not be a problem considering the theory's difficulty level. Though the theory is very simple mathematically (special theory of relativity I'm talking about), but the case is reverse when it comes to understand it intuitively. It defies the common sense. And that's what the book is about. It changes your outlook, the way you see the nature and gives you a new and better ...more
Retour aux premières amours. Même un siècle après, le sens commun continue d'être fortement perturbé par les résultats d'Albert, déduits des travaux du XIXème sur l'électromagnétisme. Quel ironie ce retour en grâce inattendu de Descartes, après avoir été bien moqué: pas d'étendue sans contenu !
How dare I give this masterpiece less than 5 stars ?! Although I could hardly claim that I understood 10 percent of the book ! What he was talking about ?! Moving reference bodies, Euclidean geometry, Newtonian theory of gravitation, ..... What ?! We don't see the real length of things as everything is moving in the space ! Length is relative as well as mass ! So what is real ? Is there one single thing that all human can agree on it ?! Relativity can be applied on other aspects of life other th ...more
Sam Henington
Years ago,in my college physics class,I had to actually learn and try to explain Einstein's theory of relativity. With the complex math and all the workbooks, it was a task I really hated. I thought I understood it and was able to get through the tests. But I never really paid close attention to what it really meant. At that time, all I wanted was to be able to answer queations about it to get grades. Then, I changed my major and went into other subjects that I really cared about. After so many ...more
Bob Nichols
Despite Einstein's best intention to make his theory comprehensible to the non-specialized public, this book is still difficult. The commentary at the end of the book by Robert Geroch is helpful.

In the Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein states that space and time are not fixed properties, that they are intimately connected to each other (hence, spacetime, "ST"), that time and space are shorter and slower as an object moves closer to the speed of light, and that mass increases with the addit
May 09, 2007 Andrew rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nerds; cosmic thinkers
Albert Einstein was a really smart motherfucker. He was smart not just because he was able to conceive of the theory of relativity (both the special and general theories) - he was working on things that people before him had already worked on. What was really smart about him is that he was able to make it all explicable - if not entirely comprehensible - to your average person.

I'm not going to go into the general and special theories of relativity, because I honestly only understand the theorie
Bipul Roy
I call it epic book, not only in terms of the knowledge it gives. But it is sure to create a storm of queries and enthusiasm in your mind provided you enjoy mathematics form the core of the heart.

It surely imparts some best lessons for life, that keep your subconscious alert and curiosity should be the prime element of every thought process. The thing that Einstein got the idea of relativity while going home in a car, he saw the time in clock mounted on top of church, and it gave him the storm t
John Wiswell
Aug 19, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Physics readers
Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is one of the most important to modern science (only evolution rivals it, and that is in biology, where this is in physics), and so it should be explained to everyone. Einstein did his best to explain his theory for laymen, but with less success than Sigmund Freud or Joseph Campbell in doing the same with their theories; you need a working knowledge of physics to approach this book. Einstein supposedly made this as accessible as he could, but made the limit ...more
Stuart Kelly
When I was at university the lecturers recommended books on relativity and I even read a few. I gleaned a vague understanding of the subject. None of them recommended Einstein's book. I can't remember where I found it but I'm very glad I did. It's the best and easiest to understand book about relativity I have ever read. I recommend it to students who are struggling with the concepts and all of them so far have had the "Aha!" moment thanks to Albert himself.
It's just been returned to me from ano
The Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein, published in 1916, transformed the way man viewed humanity and the natural world. In it the great physicist explains that space, time, and mass are not absolute, but relative to the observer. With absolutely no background in physics and with the aid of Einstein for Dummies I was able to understand about a third of this theory. It was painful. Nevertheless, I am glad I read this primary source and have a greater understanding of modernist thought.
Mohamed Ibrahim
الكتاب جميل لكنه جعلنى اشعر بالصداع
القراءة عن تفاصيل فيزيائية دون المعادلات والتفاصيل الرياضية لا تجعلنى استطيع التركيز
Einstein, Albert. RELATIVITY: The Special and General Theory. (German-1916; Eng.-1920). ****. And now for something completely different... I first read this small book by Einstein in, I guess, 1960, just after I had finished a course in Nuclear Physics. I didn’t understand it then. Since then, I have completed two degrees in chemistry and worked in the field for 45 years. I still don’t understand all of it. This was his attempt to present these theories to the lay public. This is probably his m ...more
Aiman Faruqi
While a number of other books cover the topics of special and general relativity, only this one, written by the creator of the theories themselves, conveys a sense of profound understanding that is unparalleled by other books on the subject.

What is most remarkably about this book is that it provides an excellent framework for the special and general theories without necessitating the understanding of advanced math. As someone who loves math, this is not something I would normally laud, but, in
Sometimes it's best to get your info straight from the horse's mouth. Putting aside how utterly pretentious you'll look reading this book, it's a great encapsulation of Einstein's most important work into something most people will be able to understand.

Other summaries of relativity I've read by Hawking and Greene have been good but not as comprehensive. More dumbed-down versions are usually nothing more than analogies that offer no real insight.

As far as the math credentials, Einstein introduc
Einstein quiso escribir un libro de divulgación sobre su propia teoría y le salió rana. Las explicaciones que da no resultan nada claras y los ejemplos son un poco galimatías. Sin duda su espíritu de matemático ha velado un poco la claridad de los conceptos ( :) )
Josh Smith
Some parts of this book were easier than others to read -- some were a breeze and were understandable for me, and others were complete hell. I got through it, though, and I came away with somewhat of an inkling of an understanding of the theories. I especially liked the analogies Einstein gave; without those, I would have been completely lost. I wish he had left out the mathematical equations from the main body of the book, and just had readers refer to the appendices if they were interested in ...more
Oct 18, 2011 Josh rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nerds
Recommended to Josh by: the internet
It's a fairly dense book, but I enjoyed it and definitely have a better understanding of relativity than I did, despite the fact that I probably missed a lot.

It is essentially a must to be very comfortable with college-level algebra and an understanding of basic Newtonian mechanics is certainly helpful. A persistent reader could probably find utility in this book if they were not particularly well-versed in basic math, though.

Also, I skipped the first 2 appendices. There was little hope for me,
The foundation of modern physics... Einstein came up with these theories and changed the way we view our world. Almost everyone knows of Einstein's intelligence, but what many don't know is how well he can teach. These theories are written as a teacher would try to explain to a student...not like one physicist talking to another. Yes, there is an assumption that the reader has a decent understanding of mathematics and physical concepts, but the reader does not need to have an advanced degree in ...more
i know, i know, how does einstein's relativity get a 3. honestly, by the time i read it, the cat was kind of out of the bag. it wasn't mind blowing because it wasn't new. also, this is not 'by einstein' in the classic sense - other folks put together a collection of his works. it's still brilliant, and gets a def 'you should read this book.'. unless you're the only physicist left on the planet who hasn't read it though, i can all but promise you will not love it. that said, you can officially co ...more
Mike Sanders
The brilliance of Einstein is not just that he can so smoothly synthesize previous scientific models and mathematical equations into his theory, but that he can do so while clearly explaining it to anyone outside his field who has a basic college-level education. With a seemingly simple train metaphor, he changes how we think of the universe in the 20th century and beyond. Every chapter gives us a new idea that still seems to inspire awe: simultaneity is relative, time is a non-absolute fourth d ...more
Steve Merrick
Its strange but Einstein once said "that you should be able to explain the universe to a barmaid." I cant quite express how strong this book is, the last essay is frighteningly brilliant and gives an illuminating view of the level of understanding that Albert reached.

Even if you are not into science this is an important work of pure clarity that should be recommended reading everywhere......

I love this book so take a chance you may gain more from it than you expected........
Steve Mitchell
If you have ever wondered if you were in a spaceship travelling at the speed of light and you turned the headlights on would anything happen, then this is the book for you. Be warned though; even though this book does simplify Einstein’s general and special theories of relativity, the text here is still heavy going. There are lots of equations that made me remember why I took biology and chemistry as my science options at school and geology at college.
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In 1879, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Zurich by 1909. His 1905 paper explaining the photoelectric effect, the basis of electronics, earned him the Nobel Prize in 1921. His first paper on Special Relativity Theory, also published in 1905, changed the world. After the rise of the Nazi party, Einstein made Princeton his permanent home, becoming ...more
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The World As I See It Ideas and Opinions The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta The Meaning of Relativity The Principle of Relativity (Books on Physics)

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