Book review

Einstein Relatively Simple

by Ira Mark Egdall, World Scientific Publishing Co: Singapore/Hackensack NJ, 2014, xiv + 383 pages, ISBN: 978-981-84525-59-6 (paperback) $28.00

November 25, 2014, the date of the release of this book, marked exactly 100 years since Albert Einstein presented his theory of general relativity to an audience of scientists. Choice* named this book “Outstanding academic title for 2014.”

Whereas almost everyone has heard of Einstein and his theory, very few people have any idea of what his theory actually is. This copiously documented book by an author, teacher, and speaker to Florida International University, the University of Miami, and Nova Southeastern University deals with the primary topics of special and general relativity in an entertaining personal manner that includes numerous anecdotes.

Einstein’s theory is important to almost everyone for a number of reasons. General relativity provides our modern understanding of space, time and gravity that is crucial to everything in physics and astronomy such as black holes, the Big Bang, and the expansion of the universe. It changes our perception of reality by proposing that such perceptions aren’t universally valid and that space and time are intertwined as four-dimensional space-time. Because Einstein must have recognized that a theory that challenges our perceptions of reality would not have been accepted earlier, its acceptance shows that we are growing up as a species. Because it raises questions about what the passage of time really means, it profoundly affects our philosophic view of the universe.

On February 11, newspapers all over the world proclaimed that a team of scientists announced that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

See, for example, Dennis Overbye, “Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory,” The New York Times, page A1, February 11, 2016.

For these reasons I am pleased to recommend Einstein Relatively Simple to nonscientists as well as to teachers of chemistry.