Relativistic Mechanics, Time and Inertia (Fundamental Theories of Physics)

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9789400964082: Relativistic Mechanics, Time and Inertia (Fundamental Theories of Physics)

To accept the special theory of relativity has, it is universally agreed, consequences for our philosophical views about space and time. Indeed some have found these consequences so distasteful that they have refused to accept special relativity, despite its many satis­ factory empirical results, and so they have been forced to try to account for these results in alternative ways. But it is surprising that there is much less agreement about exactly what the philosophical conse­ quences are, especially when looked at in detail. Partly this arises because the results of the theory are derived in an elegant mathematical notation which can conceal as much as it reveals, and which, accord­ ingly, offers no incentive to engage in the thankless task of dissection. The present book is an essay in careful analysis of special relativity and the concepts of space and time that it employs. Those who are familiar with the theory will find here (almost) all the formulae with which they are familiar;but in many cases the interpretations given to the terms in these formulae will surprise them. I doubt if this is the last word about these inter­ pretations:but I believe that the book is valuable in ix Foreword x drawing attention to the possibility of more open dis­ cussion in general, and in particular to the fact that acceptance of the theory of relativity need not commit one to every detail of conventional interpretation of its terms.

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