In clear, understandable terms, physicist Richard Wolfson explores the ideas at the heart of relativity and shows how they lead to such seeming absurdities as time travel, curved space, black holes, and new meaning for the idea of past and future. Drawing from years of teaching modern physics to nonscientists, Wolfson explains in a lively, conversational style the simple principles underlying Einstein's theory.
Relativity, Wolfson shows, gave us a new view of space and time, opening the door to questions about their flexible nature: Is the universe finite or infinite? Will it expand forever or eventually collapse in a "big crunch"? Is time travel possible? What goes on inside a black hole? How does gravity really work? These questions at the forefront of twenty-first-century physics are all rooted in the profound and sweeping vision of Albert Einstein's early twentieth-century theory. Wolfson leads his readers on an intellectual journey that culminates in a universe made almost unimaginably rich by the principles that Einstein first discovered.
Richard Wolfson is the Benjamin F. Wissler Professor of Physics at Middlebury College, where he also teaches environmental studies. He holds a BA in physics and philosophy from Swarthmore College, an MS in environmental studies from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in physics from Dartmouth. His research involves solar astrophysics and terrestrial climate, and he has published nearly 100 papers in the scientific literature. Wolfson's other books include several introductory physics texts, as well as Nuclear Choices: A Citizen's Guide to Nuclear Technology (1993) and Simply Einstein: Relativity Demystified (2003). He has five video courses for the Teaching Company's Great Courses series: Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Nonscientists (1999); Physics in Your Life (2004); Earth's Changing Climate (2007); Physics and Our Universe: How It All Works (2011); and Understanding Modern Electronics (2014).