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Book Review: Why Does E=MC2 and Why Should We Care? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

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Why Does E=MC2 and Why Do We Care? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, is, as the name implies, all about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. To be fair, this is hardly the easiest concept to master if one is studying physics. Gravity, for example, discovered by Sir Issac Newton, is simple. What goes up must come down. The exceptions have a logical explanation. Balloons keep going skywards with the aid of helium. Motion is also uncomplicated. Objects remain in motion even though actual movement has ceased. Anyone who has ever flown over the handlebars of a bicycle understands this. Opposites attract. Ever seen two people fall in love? All action has an equal and opposite reaction. Throw a ball against a wall, and it bounces off and back at you.

In the most basic of terms, Einstein has created a theory with a critical key component — a special speed. Nothing in the known universe can accelerate past this. Most people have heard this defined another way, the speed of light. Cox and Forshaw make a good point in stating that space, time, and even nature are contained within the equation.

Many scientists who started the process of showing how space and time relate to each other before Einstein came up with his. Aristotle decided the earth was the center of the universe and space revolves around it. Copernicus proved the earth rotates around the sun along with the rest of the planets. Galileo put forth the notion of motion should only be thought of with relativity to something else. Bertrand Russell, a philosopher, suggests an object or idea regarding the universe as well as its consequences needs to be observed.

Although the theory might be tricky, the authors show they understand readers are not on their level. By going one step at a time, the buildup ensures each chuck is absorbed slowly rather than all at once. For those who are mathematically minded, formulas exist throughout the book if one wants to try out the theories in a practical way.

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