Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?)

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9780306817588: Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?)

The most accessible, entertaining, and enlightening explanation of the best-known physics equation in the world, as rendered by two of today’s leading scientists.

Professor Brian Cox and Professor Jeff Forshaw go on a journey to the frontier of 21st century science to consider the real meaning behind the iconic sequence of symbols that make up Einstein’s most famous equation, E=mc2. Breaking down the symbols themselves, they pose a series of questions: What is energy? What is mass? What has the speed of light got to do with energy and mass? In answering these questions, they take us to the site of one of the largest scientific experiments ever conducted. Lying beneath the city of Geneva, straddling the Franco-Swiss boarder, is a 27 km particle accelerator, known as the Large Hadron Collider. Using this gigantic machine—which can recreate conditions in the early Universe fractions of a second after the Big Bang—Cox and Forshaw will describe the current theory behind the origin of mass.

Alongside questions of energy and mass, they will consider the third, and perhaps, most intriguing element of the equation: 'c' - or the speed of light. Why is it that the speed of light is the exchange rate? Answering this question is at the heart of the investigation as the authors demonstrate how, in order to truly understand why E=mc2, we first must understand why we must move forward in time and not backwards and how objects in our 3-dimensional world actually move in 4-dimensional space-time. In other words, how the very fabric of our world is constructed. A collaboration between two of the youngest professors in the UK, Why Does E=mc2? promises to be one of the most exciting and accessible explanations of the theory of relativity in recent years.
 

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About the Author:

Brian Cox is a professor of particle physicist and Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. He divides his time between Manchester in the UK and the CERN laboratory in Geneva, where he heads an international project to upgrade the giant ATLAS and CMS detectors at the Large Hadron Collider. He has received many awards for his work promoting science, including being elected an International Fellow of the Explorers Club in 2002, an organization whose members include Neil Armstrong and Chuck Yeager. He is also a popular presenter on TV and radio, with credits which including a six-part series on Einstein for BBC Radio 4, 3 BBC Horizon programs on Gravity, Time and Nuclear Fusion, and a BBC4 documentary about the LHC at CERN, “The Big Bang Machine”. He was the Science Advisor on Danny Boyle's movie, the science-fiction thriller Sunshine. Brian also has an unorthodox background in the music business, having toured the world with various bands and played keyboard with D:REAM, who had several UK Top 10 hits including Things Can Only Get Better (re-released & used as Tony Blair's election anthem back in 1997.

Jeff Forshaw is professor of theoretical physics at the University of Manchester, specializing in the physics of elementary particles. He was awarded the Institute of Physics Maxwell Medal in 1999 for outstanding contributions to theoretical physics. He graduated from Oxford University and gained a PhD from Manchester University. From 1992-1995 he worked in Professor Frank Close's group at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory before returning to Manchester in 1995. Jeff is an enthusiastic lecturer and currently teaches Einstein's Theory of Relativity to first year undergraduates. He has co-writing an undergraduate textbook on relativity for Wiley and he is the author of an advanced level monograph on particle physics for Cambridge University Press.

Cox and Forshaw began collaborating on scientific papers in 1998, and have published on topics ranging from Pomerons to Higgs Bosons. Their most successful paper to date deals with physics at the Large Hadron Collider in the absence of a Higgs particle.
 

Review:

Tucson Citizen, 3/17/10
“A book written by two physicists is enough to give any critic pause. I approached it with much apprehension but quickly discovered that not only is the bulk of the book accessible, it is actually a perfect blend of science and universal truths...By explaining the theories behind such massive projects as the atomic bomb and nuclear power, Cox and Forshaw build a convincing case that this simple equation contains the very backbone of nature and that by recognizing it for what it us, we can challenge and change many of our perspectives of space and time.”

London Sunday Telegraph, 3/14/10
“[The book] explain[s] some of physics’ most fiendish concepts—like the nature of space and the origin of mass—in sparkling prose.”

Choice magazine, January 2010
“A popular account of the intellectual interplay between elementary particle physics, relativity theory, and cosmology...It does a very nice job of explaining the counterintuitive aspects of spacetime and the relationship between time, space, energy, and mass...Readers of this book will be better prepared to understand the news coming out of CERN...Recommended.”

The Big Bang Book Club, August 2010 pick

Manchester Evening News, 3/6/10
“Delivering cutting edge 21st century physics in a digestible form and publicizing science is [Cox’s] stock-in trade and he can do it as easily in book form. Along with co-author and fellow Manchester University professor Jeff Forshaw, the enthusiastic ‘rock star physicist’ and former member of D:Ream tackles Einstein’s most famous equation and brings the subject to life. It’s a book that will primarily appeal to anyone with an existing interest in science, but if you’ve ever wanted to understand the basic principles of energy, mass and light there’s no better place to learn.”

Metapsychology Online Reviews, 3/7/10
“The authors manage effectively both to explain why E=mc2 and to convince us that we ought to care...Cox and Forshaw do remarkably well to keep the reader engaged through their discussion of some particularly difficult mathematical concepts...The authors demonstrate, with clarity and ease, how Einstein’s theory of special relativity is important in all aspects of our lives, from our own existence to the workings of everyday objects...An entertaining and enlightening read.”
Magill Book Review, October 2009
“Using minimal mathematics, the authors present an intriguing, accessible description of Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, how space-time relationships work, and why it is important in the modern world...Teaches readers who are not familiar with physics some complicated topics in a rather simple, straightforward, entertaining manner...Rewards of increased knowledge and insights as to how the universe works will be reaped from this book for all those who have any interest in physics and its many applications to everyday life.”

Charleston Post and Courier SC, 10/11
“A fun romp with science...The often amusing lecture by British physicists Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw is written in plain language and full of fun examples.”

Science News, 10/24/09
“By exploring each part of Albert Einstein’s famous equation, two physicists ultimately explain the theory of relativity.”

Discover magazine’s Bad Astronomy blog
“Excellent.”
ScienceforPeople.com
“Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw have summoned up the audacity to write a book on relativity for lay people. Although this has been attempted before, it has rarely been done so well...Cox and Forshaw know their stuff...[They make] the science sound fresh and fun...The book quickly and painlessly explains why E=mc2...This book is a wonderful introduction into the wild world of stretchy time, warped space and unbelievable energies...Give this book a shot.”

MSNBC.com’s Cosmic Log blog, 11/24/09
“The restart of the world’s biggest particle smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, should spark interest in recently published books that delve into the big picture surrounding subatomic physics, such as Why Does E=mc2?

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