Special Relativity

Thomas M. Helliwell

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: July 28, 2009

Pages: 306 pages

ISBN: 9781891389610 Related titles:


Special Relativity is a superb text for students to begin or continue a serious study of physics. Describing the most accessible of the 20th-century revolutions, it also illustrates the fact that nature is stranger than one imagines. The book evolved through years of teaching a highly-successful course to thousands of first-year students in science and engineering. It is appropriate as part of an introductory physics course, as a supplement to a “modern physics” course, as a text for a special topics or advanced placement course, or even as a supplement in an advanced undergraduate course. Numerous illustrations, examples, and problems are presented throughout, with the concise mathematical description postponed until after the reader has built up some physical intuition for what is going on. The book contains many applications, from particle decays, colliding-beam experiments and photon rockets to a brief introduction to relativistic gravitation, including the Principle of Equivalence, the effect of altitude on clocks, and the Global Positioning System. Ten appendices can be taken up as interest and time allow, including The “Cosmic Speed Limit.” The book is a serious introduction, praised for its clarity, accessibility, and informal, light-hearted style.

1. Inertial Frames and Classical Mechanics
2. Light and the Ether
3. Einstein's Postulates
4. Time Dilation
5. Lengths
6. Simultaneity
7. Paradoxes
8. The Lorentz Transformation
9. Spacetime
10. Momentum
11. Energy
12. Applications
13. Transforming Energy and Momentum
14. Gravitation

A. The Binomial Approximation
B. The "Paradox" of Light-Spheres
C. The Appearance of Moving Objects
D. The Twin Paradox Revisited
E. The "Cosmic Speed Limit"
F. "Relativistic Mass" and Relativistic Forces
G. The Ultimate Relativistic Spaceflight
H. Nuclear Decays, Fission and Fusion
I. Some Particles
J. Relativity and Electromagnetism

Answers to Odd-Numbered Problems


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