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In Einstein's view of the universe, "c" was the only thing that stayed the same in all reference frames and, to accommodate that, he showed how time and space themselves were stretchy concepts.

E=mc² is Incomplete

No longer was there a fixed backdrop upon which the universe did its work: the familiar ideas of position in space, time and speed were all malleable depending on who is watching what and how fast they are moving relative to each other. Cox and Forshaw use this background to rattle through concepts that sound more science-fiction than everyday: how time slows down and length contracts the closer you move to the speed of light or why one twin can age more slowly than the other if he goes on a super-fast round trip.

You need the idea of spacetime to explain why, even as you seem to sit still in space, you are still moving at "c" in the time dimension.


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Think of your normal movements in everyday 3D space and everyday time as the shadow of a more universal movement in 4D spacetime. To make the equations of special relativity work, you need to measure your motion in spacetime, rather than everyday space and time. Einstein came up with his seemingly baffling ideas as a series of thought experiments, and the fact that they were later proved by experiment is thanks to his skills as a mathematician.

Another popular science book might have spared readers the gory details of what Einstein was up to, given that his ideas and results were in themselves so engrossing. But Cox and Forshaw do as much as they can to undermine the old publishing canard that equations in books don't sell. Most of the steps they take to reaching Einstein's famous equation are accompanied by some mathematics. It's not easy going in parts but then, if you really want to know what Einstein was up to and really want to know why what he did changed physics, you can't expect it to be easy.

ISBN 13: 9780306819117

Metaphors and lay explanations will only get you so far with special relativity, you have to see the maths to really understand what's going on. If anything, the authors are too apologetic about the maths they include, constantly assuring readers that there is a purpose to the strings of symbols, that there is a key insight at the end of the abstractions.

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.

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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. It's frustrating, it's terrifying and it's slow.

Sometimes it is hugely confusing and counter-intuitive.

Why Does E=mc2?: (and Why Should We Care?) (Brian Cox , Jeff Forshaw)

But patience and persistence in the face of dearly held beliefs is exactly why scientists have made such a remarkable fist of understanding and shaping our modern world. It's well worth your while to gulp down any fears of maths and glimpse some of that remarkable achievement in action. Albert Einstein Science and nature books Brian Cox reviews. Reuse this content.

Why Does E=mc2?: (and Why Should We Care?)-Brian Cox, Jeff Forshaw | eBay

Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Using this gigantic machine - which can recreate conditions in the early Universe fractions of a second after the Big Bang - Cox and Forshaw will describe the current theory behind the origin of mass. The book was launched at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and was a trailblazer event for Manchester Science Festival, a fun-packed annual week of inspirational shows and workshops from October 24th to November 1st For more information please see.

It is published by De Capo Press. For further information on the book or to request an interview with Brian Cox or Jeff Forshaw, ease call Vicky Gilder at Perseus Books on or email victoria.


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