John Wiswell's Reviews > Relativity: The Special and the General Theory

Relativity by Albert Einstein
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Aug 19, 2007

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Recommended for: Physics readers
Read in August, 2007

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 limitations of his genius known by how clunky and technical the book remains. Getting an A- average in high school Physics will not prepare you for this book; it’s hopeless to read it if you aren’t familiar with Euclid’s mathematics and Galilean systems. Much of his phrasing is dated (today no one writes of the law that “light is propagated in empty space” or of “attaching meaning” the way he does, because language has changed to the point of making such phrases obtuse), and so requires more patience, and benefits from all the existing fundamental knowledge of physics you can bring. Ironically, the people who will probably most enjoy this book are those who already understand relativity, but anyone with a good grasp of physics is encouraged to try it.
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