The Meaning Of Relativity (review)

I noticed a new printing of Dr. Albert Einstein’s lectures about his Theory of Relativity sitting in the “new” section of the Norfolk Public Library.  I picked it up while thinking thatEinstein-book I really need to finally tackle the thing.  My first encounter with Einstein’s The Meaning Of Relativity, happened in the 1980s after wanting to verify some psuedo-scientific self-help literature.  At the time, I felt overwhelmed by Einstein’s book and gave it to charity.

So, here I was with the latest printing of it in my hands.  It was still the short, comprehensive volume that I remembered from the past.  Yes, the mathematical formulae and equations were still scattered throughout the text.  Yes, I was going to need some patience and a scientific calculator to wade through the thing because I’m certainly not a mathematician.

The Meaning Of Relativity is composed of four of Albert Einstein’s lectures delivered at Princeton University in 1921. The reader is presented with introductions to general and special theories of relativity. Most interesting is Einstein’s introduction to pre-relativity physics. His book is simple, but not easy.

Once you get yoursef into a mathematical frame of mind, Einstein’s style becomes more clear and somewhat readable.  Personally, in order for me to understand his math, I went through the steps with my handheld scientific calculator on most equations. It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed thinking in the language of mathematics, so this was a good crash refresher course.

The lectures begin with Einstein’s concepts of space/time. The reader is given a glimpse into the philosophy and psychology of the author’s point of view. This is presented in order to illustrate Einstein’s motivations to investigate the special and general natures of relativity.

In the second lecture, Einstein introduces Special Relativity. He presents the problem of Einstein-1921calculating coordinates and time in an hypothetical system that moves uniformly in translation relative to another hypothetical system.  Here is where Einstein’s most famous finding is presented.  Under the equation, “E equals MC squared”, is his statement, “Mass and energy are therefore essentially alike; they are only different expressions of the same thing. The mass of a body is not a constant; it varies with changes in its energy.”

I am in the process of re-reading the second half of his writings on general relativity.  I have a good abstract view of the concepts but I’m still trying to tie it all together in my mind. I cannot express a qualified view of this portion of the book because it still appears too dense and deep for me. I’m brushing up on my long neglected knowledge of Euclidian Geometry to get a better handle on the details.

Basically, if you remember that space, time and light are dependent upon one another and are all relative to one another you will be motivated to follow through on Dr. Einstein’s evolving philosophy regarding his relativity theories.

If you enjoy complex puzzle-solving and mental intercourse, this book will provide you with many opportunities to stretch your mind and to expand your awareness.

The Meaning Of Relativity by Albert Einstein. Published by Routledge Classics.
ISBN: 0-415-28588-7

Auf Wiedersehen

The Blue Jay of Happiness remembers that Dr. Einstein was instrumental in shaping thought and advances in our era of time.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
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