Philosophy of Physics

Philosophy of Physics : Space and Time

4.15 (157 ratings by Goodreads)
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This concise book introduces nonphysicists to the core philosophical issues surrounding the nature and structure of space and time, and is also an ideal resource for physicists interested in the conceptual foundations of space-time theory. Tim Maudlin's broad historical overview examines Aristotelian and Newtonian accounts of space and time, and traces how Galileo's conceptions of relativity and space-time led to Einstein's special and general theories of relativity. Maudlin explains special relativity with enough detail to solve concrete physical problems while presenting general relativity in more qualitative terms. Additional topics include the Twins Paradox, the physical aspects of the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, the constancy of the speed of light, time travel, the direction of time, and more. * Introduces nonphysicists to the philosophical foundations of space-time theory * Provides a broad historical overview, from Aristotle to Einstein * Explains special relativity geometrically, emphasizing the intrinsic structure of space-time * Covers the Twins Paradox, Galilean relativity, time travel, and more * Requires only basic algebra and no formal knowledge of physics
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Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 22.86mm | 369g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 32 line illus.
  • 0691143099
  • 9780691143095
  • 357,736

Back cover copy

"Exceptionally clear and comprehensive, this engrossing volume will be extremely useful to students. Most introductions to space-time and relativity are written by physicists, but readers interested in a careful examination of the philosophical foundations of the subject are much better served by starting here. I had fun reading this book."--Sean Carroll, author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time

"Maudlin adroitly guides readers through the mathematical, physical, and philosophical subtleties of Newtonian physics and special and general relativity. The book is filled with lucid and original observations, and succeeds in presenting material that was previously only accessible to those who could stomach significant amounts of differential geometry. A major contribution."--David Wallace, University of Oxford
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Table of contents

Acknowledgments ix Introduction: The Aim and Structure of These Volumes xi Chapter One Classical Accounts of Space and Time 1 The Birth of Physics 1 Newton's First Law and Absolute Space 4 Absolute Time and the Persistence of Absolute Space 9 The Metaphysics of Absolute Space and Time 12 Chapter Two Evidence for Spatial and Temporal Structure 17 Newton's Second Law and the Bucket Experiment 17 Arithmetic, Geometry, and Coordinates 24 The Symmetries of Space and the Leibniz-Clarke Debate 34 Chapter Three Eliminating Unobservable Structure 47 Absolute Velocity and Galilean Relativity 47 Galilean Space-Time 54 Chapter Four Special Relativity 67 Special Relativity and Minkowski Space-Time 67 The Twins Paradox 77 Minkowski Straightedge, Minkowski Compass 83 Constructing Lorentz Coordinates 87 Chapter Five The Physics of Measurement 106 The Clock Hypothesis 106 Abstract Boosts and Physical Boosts 114 The "Constancy of the Speed of Light" 120 Deeper Accounts of Physical Principles 124 Chapter Six General Relativity 126 Curved Space and Curved Space-Time 126 Geometrizing Away Gravity 131 Black Holes and the Big Bang 140 The Hole Argument 146 Suggested Readings on General Relativity 152 Chapter Seven The Direction and Topology of Time 153 The Geometry of Time 153 Time Travel as a Technical Problem 162 The Direction of Time 165 Appendix: Some Problems in Special Relativistic Physics 171 References 177 Index 181
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Review quote

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013 "Taking up the conceptual foundations of classical and modern physics, Maudlin explains in a clear manner how Einstein's special and general theories of relativity emerged from Newtonian mechanics and Galilean relativity... This is a solid work that deserves careful study and rewards readers accordingly."--Choice "I would highly recommend Philosophy of Physics to anyone who wants to get a deeper historical and philosophical perspective on the nature of space and time, as well as to any physics student who has been confused by the twin paradox."--Robert M. Wald, Physics Today "Maudlin has successfully undertaken a very difficult task: to write a book about the physical theories of space and time, accessible to every learned person with genuine interest in philosophy and the foundations of physics, with little mathematical prerequisites but without betraying the physical theories. We are really anxious to read the second volume of his work."--Chrysovalantis Stergiou, Metascience "An accessible and highly engaging introduction to the major issues in the physics of space and time."--Matt Farr, Philosophy in Review
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About Tim Maudlin

Tim Maudlin is professor of philosophy at New York University. His books include The Metaphysics within Physics and Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity.
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Rating details

157 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 43% (67)
4 35% (55)
3 18% (28)
2 3% (5)
1 1% (2)
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