This concise book introduces nonphysicists to the core philosophical issues surrounding the nature and structure of space and time, and is also an ideal resource for physicists interested in the conceptual foundations of space-time theory. Tim Maudlin's broad historical overview examines Aristotelian and Newtonian accounts of space and time, and traces how Galileo's conceptions of relativity and space-time led to Einstein's special and general theories of relativity. Maudlin explains special relativity with enough detail to solve concrete physical problems while presenting general relativity in more qualitative terms. Additional topics include the Twins Paradox, the physical aspects of the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, the constancy of the speed of light, time travel, the direction of time, and more. * Introduces nonphysicists to the philosophical foundations of space-time theory * Provides a broad historical overview, from Aristotle to Einstein * Explains special relativity geometrically, emphasizing the intrinsic structure of space-time * Covers the Twins Paradox, Galilean relativity, time travel, and more * Requires only basic algebra and no formal knowledge of physics
Tim Maudlin is professor of philosophy at New York University. His books include The Metaphysics within Physics and Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity.
Acknowledgments ix Introduction: The Aim and Structure of These Volumes xi Chapter One Classical Accounts of Space and Time 1 The Birth of Physics 1 Newton's First Law and Absolute Space 4 Absolute Time and the Persistence of Absolute Space 9 The Metaphysics of Absolute Space and Time 12 Chapter Two Evidence for Spatial and Temporal Structure 17 Newton's Second Law and the Bucket Experiment 17 Arithmetic, Geometry, and Coordinates 24 The Symmetries of Space and the Leibniz-Clarke Debate 34 Chapter Three Eliminating Unobservable Structure 47 Absolute Velocity and Galilean Relativity 47 Galilean Space-Time 54 Chapter Four Special Relativity 67 Special Relativity and Minkowski Space-Time 67 The Twins Paradox 77 Minkowski Straightedge, Minkowski Compass 83 Constructing Lorentz Coordinates 87 Chapter Five The Physics of Measurement 106 The Clock Hypothesis 106 Abstract Boosts and Physical Boosts 114 The "Constancy of the Speed of Light" 120 Deeper Accounts of Physical Principles 124 Chapter Six General Relativity 126 Curved Space and Curved Space-Time 126 Geometrizing Away Gravity 131 Black Holes and the Big Bang 140 The Hole Argument 146 Suggested Readings on General Relativity 152 Chapter Seven The Direction and Topology of Time 153 The Geometry of Time 153 Time Travel as a Technical Problem 162 The Direction of Time 165 Appendix: Some Problems in Special Relativistic Physics 171 References 177 Index 181