The math-less and even the math-sparse books on a subject like relativity are necessarily weak on definition of terms. They use words, and while the author may understand what is meant by these words in relativity, the reader is left with the vague association that these words evoke from their usage in spoken English. This leaves the critical reader of the conceptual-only books on relativity constantly asking, "just what does this phrase mean?"
Only when terms are defined exactly, and this is what algebra is designed to do for a subject like relativity, can they be used beyond the particular sentences in which they appear.
Stephen Hawking reports being advised while writing his popular book about time, that "each equation included in the book would halve the sales."
Whole books on relativity have been written based on the advice given Hawking. No equations. If that is what you are looking for, there are many beautiful books to choose from that fit that description. But this isn't one of them.
We go rather with Anthony Leggett who responded this way to the advice Hawking received: "No doubt this may be so, but from any but a commercial perspective, a more interesting question is what effect each equation will have on the percentage of readers who will get out of the book the level of understanding intended." from a book review in Physics Today July 1999 p51
Lillian Lieber wrote a wonderful little book about relativity for the general reader in 1936. You won't find her book except in the dusty stacks of an occasional University library. It was called The Einstein Theory of Relativity published by Reinhart & Co. New York
I want to quote from its timeless preface: "... just enough mathematics to HELP and NOT to HINDER the lay reader."
Lieber's preface goes on, "Many 'popular' discussions of Relativity without any math at all have been written, but we doubt whether even the best of these can possibly give to a novice an adequate idea of what it is all about. ... One the other hand, there are many [relativity books] that are accessible to the experts only."
We call this the Lillian Lieber standard.
Here is how that standard has been applied in this book:
For whom is this book intended? CLICK HERE
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