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Sidelights on Relativity

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  573 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In 1905, a German technical journal, Annalen der Physik, published a remarkable paper by a young clerk in the patent office at Berne, Switzerland. The clerk was Albert Einstein. The paper outlined his Special Theory of Relativity, a revolutionary physical theory which discarded the concept of absolute motion in favor of relative motion in the context of a four-dimensional ...more
Paperback, 64 pages
Published July 21st 2010 by Dover Publications (first published July 1st 1983)
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Forked Radish The only absolute is that there is no absoluteness.

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Michael Huang
This is really not a book as in edited monologue but a transcript of some sort based on two lectures Einstein gave.
Mario García
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An exceptional historic document composed of two distinct addresses by Albert Einstein.

Firstly, recounting the stumbling of Physical Science from Newton's theory to his own: the intrinsic relation of matter and energy; and how the influence of problems derived from Hertz's investigations in electro-dynamics made this possible, thanks to Lorentz through Maxwell's equations. Secondly, the fundamental question for the character of Mathematics as a valid description of reality -particularly in the f
Derek Davis
Nov 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know anything about the basics of relativity, Einstein's pretty much the only one to read. He brings an unusual and remarkable clarity to his own work without grandstanding.

This short bit combines two lectures from the early 1920s answering some of the inherent queries on his recent work. The first deals with the idea of the "ether" which his work both discredited and, as he shows, retained in its essence. The second shows, remarkably, that you CAN envision a finite unbounded univ
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-tech, non-fiction
The essays were a bit hard to understand, especially the first one where Einstein talked about the idea of the "luminiferous ether" which is no longer accepted today. But I had read Carl Sagan's explanation of it (and of Maxwell's Electromagnetic Theory) in both Cosmos and The Demon-Haunted World, and that made understanding Einstein's essays easier for me -- though it certainly wasn't a walk in the park. The popularization of Science really goes a long way into making hard concepts easier to di ...more
Ivan Vuković
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Short but very interesting and surprisingly clear! It really brings out Einstein's ability to explain difficult concepts in a way which pretty much confirms one of his quotes:

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."

(At least I think he really said it, you can never be sure these days.)
Jason Kirk
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Comprised of two lectures delivered at the University of Leyden (1920) and the Prussian Academy of Sciences (1921),
Sidelights on Relativity
is probably best served to gluttons. (I count myself among them.) "Ether and Relativity" is his rebuttal of the idea of a universal "ether" through which things move, and "Geometry and Experience" applies the ideas of what was then the new geometry to the concept of a finite universe. Like I said...

The are also a few more inclusively phrased nuggets of
Preston Lee
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating lay explanations of Einstein's relativity theories from the man himself, including contextual (and competing) information relevant to the breakthroughs. No prerequisite mathematics knowledge needed, though comfort with basic kinetic Euclidian/Newtonian celestial motion (such as basic geometry and gravity) as well as abstract critical thinking skills are highly recommended.

Overall: 4 of 5.
M Pereira
This book is for anyone. This gives a nice context to Relativity, without actually explaining much about it, but by through two relevant stories (one about the theory of light and the other about the transition to non-euclidean geometries), Einstein, the man himself, gives an accessible potted scientific history of the past century and a half.

Most recommended, I dont have a maths or science background and you don't need one for this book.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I explored this with the feelings that I am reading Albert Einstein's point of view. It holds true in being as concrete as much as his work bares to be. A masterful work translated here to help undestand what or why his belief in relativity is and written in a modernist simple terms using physics involved to greatly inform readers it's encompassing impact to the world as we know it. ...more
Mark Kreider
Sep 15, 2007 rated it liked it
A skinny little book containing a pair of lectures on, well, sidelights on Relativity. Interesting notes on the historical development of scientific theory and on visualizing non-Euclidean geometry in a meaningful way. When I first read it back in school, I found it to be a great appendix to our assigned readings. It is less valuable standing on it's own. ...more
Jesus Cruz
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ciencia
este libro que por primera vez entiendo completamente contiene dos presentaciones en universidades distintas de la visión de Einstein sobre lo que son los problemas teóricos y su hobbie, los problemas teóricos mentales, como llegó a la idea de la relatividad y lo que las matemáticas le aportaron a su pensamiento. Gran libro!
Arya Tabaie
A great deal of its I didn't understand, not deep enough at least.

I really loved his temper of mind, though. Despite of him being a "natural scientist", he sounds much more Platonic and aesthetically obsessed than most British philosophers do.
Josiah Richardson
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, science
Fascinating. Two thoughts

1. It is impossible to approach science without philosophy. They aren't interchangeable, but they are inseparable.

2. The theory of general relativity, statistically speaking, is something we are more mathematically certain of than anything else in the world.
Raul Carpio
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesante lectura pero no para los no iniciados.
Jun 09, 2015 added it
A very concise document of two addresses by Einstein in the early 20th century. Fascinating and thought provoking!
Gary Patella
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sadly, this short book does nothing to really expand on Einstein's theory. It was more like a brief summary of Relativity rather than any independant sidelights. ...more
Shane Hall
A fascinating look into the thinking of a great mind in the midst of his time.
Mbah Petruk
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ngulang 2 kali, cuma paham dikit
Alejandro Sánchez
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really liked it. I'm by no means a physics expert but Einstein's approachable style made it illuminating and entertaining. ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Another audiobook listened to in the lab. It was like getting a lecture from Einstein himself, but read by someone else.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The man was a genius and probably a bit insane, but this was an interesting read!
Simon Kao
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A rather educational ride.
Caitlin Ball
This book was not what I thought it would be about but touched on my favorite subjects. Throughout reading it, I repeatedly had the thought that it comes right up to the precipice of truth without surmounting it. Engrossed by the subject in a way I had never heard it explained before, I began taking notes on my shower door, it was the only thing I had to take notes on at the time. Had I realized how amazing the book was, I might have gone to get paper. As it is I didn’t and will simply have to r ...more
Murf Reeves
Aug 01, 2022 rated it liked it
This is my first time reading Einstein and much of the verbage is over my head, but I got the gist of the idea of relativity for the first time. Thanks Albert!
Paul Ivans
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
What is aether and this gap in geometry??
Mar 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Amusing short read

Love me being reminded of a time where scientists firmly believed that space was composed of aether and not a vacuum lol
May 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Will have to reread this. I listened to it as an audiobook and did not comprehend most of it. What little I did understand was useful though.
Forked Radish
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Includes Ether and the Theory of Relativity
rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2012
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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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“Is human reason, then, without experience, merely by taking thought, able to fathom the properties of real things. In my opinion the answer to this question is, briefly, this:--As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” 5 likes
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