In It's About Time, N. David Mermin asserts that relativity ought to be an important part of everyone's education--after all, it is largely about time, a subject with which all are familiar. The book reveals that some of our most intuitive notions about time are shockingly wrong, and that the real nature of time discovered by Einstein can be rigorously explained without advanced mathematics. This readable exposition of the nature of time as addressed in Einstein's theory of relativity is accessible to anyone who remembers a little high school algebra and elementary plane geometry. The book evolved as Mermin taught the subject to diverse groups of undergraduates at Cornell University, none of them science majors, over three and a half decades. Mermin's approach is imaginative, yet accurate and complete. Clear, lively, and informal, the book will appeal to intellectually curious readers of all kinds, including even professional physicists, who will be intrigued by its highly original approach.
N. David Mermin is a theoretical physicist who has worked in solid state physics, low temperature physics, statistical physics, crystallography, and foundations of quantum mechanics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and won the first Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical society for "his remarkable clarity and wit as a lecturer to nonspecialists on difficult subjects." His books include "Solid State Physics, Boojums All the Way Through", and "Space and Time in Special Relativity".
Preface: Why Another Relativity Book ix Note to Readers xiv Chapter One: The Principle of Relativity 1 Chapter Two: Combining (Small)Velocities 14 Chapter Three: The Speed of Light 19 Chapter Four: Combining (Any)Velocities 28 Chapter Five: Simultaneous Events;Synchronized Clocks 45 Chapter Six: Moving Clocks Run Slowly;Moving Sticks Shrink 58 Chapter Seven: Looking At a Moving Clock 73 Chapter Eight: The Interval between Events 79 Chapter Nine: Trains of Rockets 89 Chapter Ten: Space-Time Geometry 102 Chapter Eleven: E =M2 144 Chapter Twelve: A Bit about General Relativity 171 Chapter Thirteen: What Makes It Happen? 179 Index 187