Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Emmy: The Physics Wonder Dog

How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog by Chad Orzel

Summary: Physics professor Chad Orzel and his inquisitive canine companion, Emmy, tackle the concepts of general relativity in this irresistible introduction to Einstein’s physics. Through armchair—and sometimes passenger-seat—conversations with Emmy about the relative speeds of dog and cat motion or the logistics of squirrel-chasing, Orzel translates complex Einsteinian ideas—the slowing of time for a moving observer, the shrinking of moving objects, the effects of gravity on light and time, black holes, the Big Bang, and of course, E=mc2—into examples simple enough for a dog to understand. A lively romp through one of the great theories of modern physics, How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about space, time, and anything else you might have slept through in high school physics class.

Review: An informative yet somewhat cutesy way to learn physics.

It was a cute concept to have the professor explain physics to his dog, but it got old after a while. It wouldn't have been so bad if Emmy hadn't interjected at various points during the chapter. It broke up the flow of the chapters. The interactions were funny and I did laugh at loud at times, but it somehow cheapened the book. Yes, I know it's the title of the book, but the interactions between the author and Emmy should have been kept the beginning and minimized in the rest of the chapter. 

I had some trouble at first with special relativity. I know the basic concepts behind it and I felt that the author did not explain them too well and often used very convoluted examples. Sometimes the pictures and diagrams hindered understanding versus the purely verbal. It is a somewhat hard concept to understand. I like general relativity better and the author does a better job of explaining it. This book was mainly a review for me, but I did learn some new information. I liked this enough to be willing to give the author's other teach dog to physics books. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those with an interest in physics or to those who wish to learn more about general and special relativity. 

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