Monday, August 16, 2010

New in Paperback: Why Does E=mc2?: (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

When Why Does E=mc2? (Da Capo) first came out in 2009, I was a big fan. In fact, the book was one of my personal choices for Best Books of 2009. Out last week in paperback, I like it no less now.

Particle physics professor Brian Cox and professor of theoretical physics, Jeff Forshaw are clearly trained to have the answers. But here's something that training as a physicist simply can not teach: they deliver their message not only clearly, but with a deep and resonant humor. In the preface they explain their message with the clarity that makes the book work so well:
Our aim in this book is to describe Einstein’s theory of space and time in the simplest way we can while at the same time revealing its profound beauty.
They manage to do this with both stories and questions, no mean feat but it keeps the reader drawn in and engaged. Exactly what does Einstein’s famous equation mean? How does time work? Are time and space the same thing? How about mass and energy? What would happen if we could travel at the speed of light? when Why Does E=mc2? manages to explain these things in simple, but not patronizing language, the whys and whatnots of particle physics and why it is -- or should be -- important to all of us.

Can I even begin to explain a portion of some of the theories and scientific principles covered in this book? Not a chance. But if you read Why Does E=mc2? it’ll all be deciphered for you in nice, elegant, and often humorous prose. I can’t say enough about it. ◊

David Middleton is a graphic designer and photographer and the art and culture editor of January Magazine.

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