An Equation That Changed the World: Newton, Einstein, and the Theory of Relativity

An Equation That Changed the World: Newton, Einstein, and the Theory of Relativity
by Harald Fritzsch and translated by Karin Heusch

University of Chicago Press(c)
C, T, GA **


Order Online


This translation from the German is a unique book. Bridging the gap between classical and relativistic concepts, the author describes a variety of phenomena of modern physics in storybook fashion. The goal is to give a broad segment of the public a "hands-on" appreciation of ideas that are contrary to everyday common sense--ideas that have seemed totally out of the reach of most nonscientists. Fritzsch accomplishes his goal by introducing three characters: Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein return from the dead and meet Professor Adrian Haller, an American physicist from the present. Newton asks questions about what has happened in physics since his death that he--and presumably, the reader--cannot comprehend. Einstein also asks questions, and the three characters have several entertaining discussions. Using these discourses, Fritzsch guides the reader slowly through a variety of topics related to Einstein's work, from the equivalence of mass and energy (E = mc2) and the twin paradox to time dilation/space contraction and elementary particles. The book contains several historical black-and-white photographs, a few simple graphs, very few basic mathematical equations, and a helpful glossary. The equations could be skipped by readers with a fear of algebra without causing any disruption in continuity. This is a fascinating, educational book.

--Reviewed by Jason R. Taylor in Science Books and Films, 31/9 (January/February 1995), p. 9.