Why Does E=Mc2? (and why should we care?) by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

Why Does E=Mc2

 

Mannn this book. We had some issues.

So, as ya’ll may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of a physics / quantum / science reading kick. I picked this up at the bookstore because I really didn’t know quite what E=mc2 (that’s squared by the way, I don’t know how to get the 2 to be higher up) meant, and because it got pretty favorable reviews online for being easy to understand. The LIES Amazon reviewers tell!

Me and this book just didn’t get along. Maybe it’s because I’ve read a couple physics-ish books already, but I didn’t like the tone of this book – I felt like the authors were talking down to me. In their effort to make everything easy to understand, they came up with like a thousand analogies that honestly sometimes didn’t make any sense to me. And for claiming that this book would be light on math, basically the whole thing was explaining mathematical equations. WITH VARIABLES. My god I hate variables, they were confusing in middle school and they confuse me now. Especially when 90% of the bajillion equations in this book were made up of random variables, and since they wrote the mathematical stuff out in paragraphs it was even more confusing. I get that E=Mc2 instelf is a variable equation, but there were just too many other ones that didn not seem very entry level to me. Plus, even over halfway into the book, the authors kept apologizing to the math-smart people for going too slowly, and apologizing to the non-math-smart people for including so much math. And they kept calling it “maths”. Grrrrrrr….

Also, DUDE they went off on tangents, usually about the people / history behind important revelations or equations. And that’s cool and the information was interesting, but seriously they’d start to explain some part of an equation, go off on a tangent for a page and a half, and then come back to the equation and it was frustrating.

Anyways, maybe it’s just me, but I’m either too dumb or too smart for this book. After reading a lot about Einstein’s special theory of relativity and exactly what his famous e=mc2 thing meant in this book, I was still kind of lost. So I went online and guess what I found? This Einstein Online website, which explained everything pretty clearly and in SO many fewer words.

Now, I did learn a couple of things from this book, so it wasn’t all bad. Most noticeably I learned what the importance of the work physicists at the Large Hadron Collider are working on, I learned a bit about how to think in the 4-dimensions of spacetime, etc. I learned what the basic differences between Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity are. Reading this book made me wish that I had explored physics in college – I was never a math & science type, so I kind of avoided it and took earth science when I had to. The other night I went online and looked at the physics courses at my local community college, but since I don’t actually want a job in physics it seems pointless. I just like to learn, but not enough to pay $400 plus the cost of books for one course. Maybe if I ever go back for a library science degree (when I’m like 50 and bored), I’ll take some physics electives. Or if I win the lottery. If I win the lottery, I’ll totally quit my job and in a year or two go back to college, just because I enjoy learning. In the meantime, I’m going to read up on that Einstein website and look for some physics / quantum books for self-study.

Anyways, if you’re looking for an intro to Einstein’s theories of relativity, I’d skip this book. Or at least save it until after you already have some real background on the topics.

 

Sarah Says: 2 stars

 

P.S. Sorry to those Brian Cox fans. I never heard of him before this book but I understand he’s quite popular overseas. I’m not blaming my dislike of the book on him necessarily (there ARE two authors), and I’ll have to check out some of his television stuff before I make a real judgement on him.

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Ugh, math(s) and I are not friends. I like science stuff, but it has to be really well explained in simple terms or it’s over my head. I think I should skip this one.

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  2. I’ve never been keen on maths or physics mostly because just couldn’t get either. I don’t mind learning about them if they are will explained, which doesn’t seem to be the case in this book, as you say there are many digressions. I wouldn’t like the condescending tone, either.

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