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11 Books about Albert Einstein & Relativity

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Albert Einstein is one of the most compelling figures in all of physics, and there are a wide range of books that explore his life and scientific achievements. This list, by no means comprehensive, demonstrates some intriguing resources for learning more about Albert Einstein.

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Simon & Schuster
In Einstein: His Life and Universe, biographer and former Time Magazine managing editor Walter Isaacson explores the life of one of the most popular historical and scientific figures. Isaacson goes further than earlier biographers in exploring Einstein's vast store of personal letters, most of which have not been explored in depth. This book goes beyond the science to portray the man who was Albert Einstein.

Why Does E=mc2? (and Why Do We Care?) by Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw

Da Capo Press
One of the most fundamental concepts in modern physics is that of spacetime, which defines the environment in which all of physics takes place. The concept is not necessarily straightforward, though, and in this book physicists Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw clearly address the complexities of this concept, and the bearing that it has on the rest of physics.

The real selling point of this book lies in the second part of the name. It really does address why people should care about E=mc2 and how it has an impact on the rest of physics. Most books focus on the technical aspects, without really paying close attention to the underlying meaning of the concepts, and Cox & Forshaw keep that meaning prominently placed on center stage throughout the book.

How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog by Chad Orzel

Basic Books

This book is a follow-up to Orzel's well-received 2009 book How to Teach Physics to Your Dog. While the first book focused on quantum physics, Orzel now turns his explanatory powers to Einstein's famous theory of relativity, attempting to present it in language that's acceptable to even the lay reader (or the lay dog, for that matter).

Release Date: Feb. 28, 2012

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Principle of Relativity by Albert Einstein

Dover Publications
Though Einstein's theory of relativity was revolutionary, it was not unprecedented. He built heavily on the work of Hendrik Lorentz, specifically in the Lorentz transformations that would allow transitions between inertial frames of reference.

This book, The Principle of Relativity, collects Einstein's major papers together (including "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies," which introduced relativity) with their predecessors by Lorentz as well as Herman Minkowski's influential "Space and Time" and Hermann Weyl's "Gravitation and Electricity." It is a must-have collection of the most important early papers on relativity.

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E = mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis

Walker & Company publishers
David Bodanis writes about Einsten's famous equation E = mc2; how it was developed and, ultimately, how it has affected the world. In his entertaining and informative style, he presents the work that preceded Einstein's work in determining that mass and energy were intimately connected, exploring such personalities as James Clerk Maxwell, Michael Faraday, Antoine Lavoisier, Marie Curie, Enrico fermi, and others who paved the way for Einstein's revelation, or refined it into a useful scientific application ... and the most devastating weapon known to man.
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Great Physicists by William H. Cropper

Oxford University Press
A collection of biographical essays about 30 prominent physicists, including Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Richard P. Feynman, and Stephen Hawking. The essays explore both their life and their scientific achievements in a fair amount of depth and provide an intriguing overview of the development of scientific progress through the lives of these world-changing scientists.
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Albert Meets America

Johns Hopkins University Press
Before the Beatles, before Marilyn Monroe, before J.F.K., there was ... Albert Einstein.

This book, with the full title of Albert Meets America: How Journalists Treated Genius during Einstein's 1921 Travels, is a historical exploration of Einstein as an emerging popular culture figure as he toured the United Supports to raise fund for a Zionist state. Jozsef Illy, visiting editor of the Einstein Papers, collects and annotates news articles and press releases from the trip to provide a compelling look at Einstein's science, his Zionism, and the roller coaster ride that he received from a populace that barely understood what he was famous for ... and some who hated to see a man of his ethnicity reach such a famous standing.

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Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity by Jeffrey Crelinsten

Princeton University Press
Einstein's theory of relativity was groundbreaking - so groundbreaking, in fact, that many to this day question whether it could possibly describe reality. Imagine how strange it must have seemed when first presented. This book, Einstein's Jury: The Race to Test Relativity by Jeffrey Crelinsten explores the controversial beginnings of relativity theory and how scientists set out to prove (or disprove) it. It's fairly dense reading, but for someone who really wants to understand the development of relativity, it's a very good resource.
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From Galileo to Lorentz and Beyond by Joseph Levy, Ph.D.

Apeiron Publisher
Not everyone is on board with the common interpretations of Einstein's relativity, and From Galileo to Lorentz and Beyond by Joseph Levy, Ph.D., is one book which explores an alternate theory of relativity. As Levy points out, even Einstein himself had some reservations about the implications of his life's work. Levy explores these issues and proposes an alternate theory to explain the findings of relativity. Dr. Levy posted on our very own About.com Physics Forum in 2004.

Another past contributor to the About.com Physics Forum, Todd Matthews Kelso, has written an on-line book, Pythagorean Physics, outlining his own brand of anti-relativism.

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Edu-Manga - Albert Einstein

Digital Manga Publishing
An educational manga series that gives biographies of influential and famous people throughout history, the Edu-Manga volume focusing on Albert Einstein does an excellent job of portraying him not only as a scientist, but also as a man who lived in interesting times. From his Zionist interests to his conflict with Germany to his role in the development of the nuclear bomb, Einstein is given as much weight as an individual as he is given as a scientist. The science is well portrayed, though there are a couple of minor historical inaccuracies ... still, it's well worth providing this book to a young person who has an interest in learning more about this great historical and scientific figure.

The Manga Guide to Relativity

No Starch Press
This installment in the "Manga Guide" series focuses on the theory of relativity in the manga graphic storytelling format. The mathematics involved is at a level where someone with a strong background in high school geometry and algebra should feel comfortable, and the emphasis on the visual approach makes these concepts much more accessible than they could be when discussed in the abstract.
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