Thursday, March 18, 2010

Relativity: The Special and General Theory

Earlier this week, I finished what is probably the "heaviest" titled on my Fill in the Gaps list, Einstien's Relativity: The Special and General Theory. I expected it to be really hard, but it wasn't so bad. I've written a little bit of my reflections, rather than a review, over at my main blog.

By way of a very brief review, I have to say that Einstein does an amazing job of taking what could be dense, difficult stuff and making it accessible. I don't mean you don't have to think to get it, but he writes in such a way to direct the thinking so that you can keep up with what he's saying. It's not all that tough, when done this way. I am not, by any means, well versed in physics, but this book is very easy to get into, and very easy to follow, if you pay attention. What an amazing writer — on top of being brilliant in his own field!

I won't say a lot more about the content, as it is pretty familiar to everyone today anyway. But as far as reading material, I will say that Relativity is something I would recommend anyone pick up if you are looking for something outside of your normal reading topics. It's engaging and challenging, but not difficult. The examples are clear, and are sustained throughout the book to help provide a continuity as things get more and more challenging. I chose to read with a printed copy in front of me while listening to an audio book (downloaded for free from Librivox), and that was a nice way to attack this book, I thought.

Einstein is clearly one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, and reading this volume is a good way to get a feel for what made him such a prominent figure during his day and all the days since.