Title: Relativity in Curved Spacetime
Author: Eric Baird
Publisher: Chocolate Tree Books
Web Page: www.chocolatetreebooks.com
Reviewed by: Rod Clark | View Bio
Book Review: Relativity in Curved Spacetime By Eric Baird Reviewer: Rod Clark
In this excellent discussion of relativity theory, Eric Baird introduces the reader to the history and practice of relativity theory, jauntily condensing and critiquing centuries of research as he builds his accompanying argument: that Albert Einstein’s 1905 flat-spacetime special theory cannot be fully reconciled with emerging concepts of curved spacetime, and that a more general and flexible theory is required to account for the paradoxes and pseudo paradoxes implicit in Special Relativity.
Eyes glazing over already? Take heart. The book opens with a lucid and understandable primer on “Background” physics, introducing us neophytes to the central actors of the relativity drama: light, gravity, space, time and relativity itself. Once thus fortified, the reader is then prepared to penetrate denser matter. Although it can be slow going at times, the work proves surprisingly readable, and is mapped so that you can easily move back and forth in the text to refresh your understanding. It is also beautifully referenced and indexed so that you can check out Baird’s many distinguished sources. Dozens of little illustrations, graphs and diagrams can be found throughout, providing excellent aids for conceptualization. In addition, Baird ornaments his discussions and section introductions with lively and thought-provoking quotes from scientists, poets, Lewis Carroll, and even Peter Sellers’ obtuse detective Inspector Clouseau.
With Baird as our guide, we dopple through the workshop of quantum mechanics, navigate the vortices of black holes, explore the nooks and cranies of theory past and present, and join in the mysterious dance of the observer and the observed. Along the way, Baird postulates plausible flaws in the theories of physics giants like Issac Newton and Albert Einstein, and sheds light on the sometimes subjective manner in which scientific theory has historically evolved. A special target is Einstein’s work, in particular the critical dependence of Einstein’s Special Relativity theory on the assumption of flat-space time. “What if a general theory of relativity is not reducible to Einstein’s original 1905 theory?” Baird asks. It is a question of some gravity.
All this, of course, can be somewhat consciousness warping for those of us who nearly failed physics 101. Fortunately, for all those brave enough to plunge in and persist, Baird has written a lucid primer on contemporary physics and relativity theory, which any attentive layperson can digest. At the same time he makes his case for “Life without Special Relativity” in language that is transparent, and enlightening. Whether you agree with him or not, you will know a lot more about physics when you finish this book than you did when you picked it up. Anyone fascinated with relativity, or seeking a deeper understanding of the subject will profit from reading Relativity in Curved SpaceTime.
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