Dave's Relativity Page


"Time Flies When You're Going Nowhere"

Al Think Einstein's Theory of Relativity is only for rocket scientists? Well, I've got news for you. I don't think even rocket scientists need to know relativity most of the time! (At least not rocket scientists for the next century or two.) But that doesn't mean you can't learn about it right now. This page and the others linked to it are an introduction to relativity with (almost) no math at all. It's not meant to be complete by any means, but its purpose is to help you understand the principles on which the Special Theory of Relativity is based, and know a few of its more famous implications.

First of all, a few words about the scope of this project. The theory of relativity is actually a two-fold work. First, there's the Special Theory of Relativity, published in 1905. This was basically Einstein's resolution of some paradoxes involving the speed of light, and it describes the behavior of objects at very high speeds. About ten years later, Einstein published the General Theory of Relativity, an altogether more mind-blowing theory which provides a more precise description of gravity than Isaac Newton did. Here you will read only about Special Relativity, since I don't know enough about General Relativity to explain it to anyone.

But hopefully what's here will be enough for you to enjoy and learn from. If you're ready to go, just put on your thinking cap and click on the first link below:

Dave's Relativity Page has now been translated into French and Portuguese. The French translation is by Nymbus, who has also added some material. The Portuguese translation is by Paulo J. Matos.

Other people's pages on special relativity: (I haven't gone through all of these thoroughly yet, so don't take these as recommendations.)

Special Relativity: This one consists largely of hypothetical experiments for you to think through, that demonstrate some of the results of relativity.
Usenet Relativity FAQ: Just what it says. It's the FAQ for the Usenet newsgroup rec.physics.relativity. Very extensive.
Relativity and FTL Travel: (FTL stands for "faster than light") This is an FAQ from a usenet newsgroup, which contains an introduction to relativity, as well as stuff on FTL itself.
History Topics: This has a history of relativity with lots of name-dropping. The site also has the history of many other topics in physics and especially mathematics.
UVA's Physics 252: A course in modern physics by Michael Fowler.
The Light Cone: Lots of graphical stuff on space-time. Much more detailed than these pages.
Jim Doyle's Special Relativity Page: Another introduction at about the same level as this one.
General relativity
General relativity: This page is a lesson in the general theory of relativity, written by Nymbus, which I've agreed to post here.
La relativité générale: The same page, in its original French.
If you know of other pages on the special theory of relativity that I might want to link to this one, please let me know.

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If you've enjoyed "Dave's Relativity Page," why not try Dave's other educational web pages?

The Page of EntRoPy
The Page of Uncertainty
Dave's Microcosmos
The Atom

A brief note about Dave's educational web pages.

"Dave's Relativity Page" is presented with the assistance of Morningside College. It was posted to the web in 1996 and has been slightly modified on several occasions since then.