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ISBN 0955706823 / 0955706807

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Questions and Answers

... about the book 

Where can I get the book?!?

It's available through most booksellers. A selection is given here. The paperback is priced aggressively low, with a low retailer margin, so a lot of bookshops aren't likely to keep it in stock. The hardback version (July 2008) has a more conventional retailer markup, so that might find its way into a few bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Alternatively, if you're in Europe or the US you should be able to order a copy through your local library, using the library exchange system.

Where's the publisher's website?

It's at www.chocolatetreebooks.com.

Is the book's material likely to be approved for my physics course?
I very much doubt it! :) 
One of the main arguments of the book is that the newer concepts used by general relativity make Einstein's special theory redundant, and that once we're familiar with curved-spacetime arguments, SR just seems to get in the way. Since current "relativity" courses are based on special relativity, and current textbooks insist that SR has to be part of any credible larger theory, that message isn't likely to go down well with those tasked with teaching "syllabus" physics. 
Some of the material got me thinking, I was wondering if I could discuss some of it with you?
No, unfortunately there's only the one of me, and I'm intending to be busy with other things. There's a discussion newsgroup called sci.physics.relativity where people talk about these sorts of subjects, any relevant comments or questions can be addressed there.  I intend to pop in from time to time,  meanwhile there are lots of other people there who will most likely want to tell you what they think.
How can you suggest that special relativity is outdated? Surely it has to be the foundation of modern theory?

If you read Einstein's 1950 article, you'll find him appearing to say that he now considers special relativity a historical accident that can no longer be justified with hindsight. Anyone who doesn't believe that Einstein could have written such a thing is free to track down an old "April 1950" copy of Scientific American, or look for the article on the magazine's website, or find the piece reprinted in full in the "Ideas and Opinions" compilation, pp.341-356. The Einstein paragraph quoted on the book's back cover can basically be taken as this book's mission statement.

How much research did you do for the book? 

Most of the background research was carried out during the 1990's when I was running my old "Erk's Relativity Pages" website. My rule for that site was that no information went onto it, no matter how obvious, until it had been checked. Since it was a 300-page site, I did a lot of checking.  

Being based in London, I got to frequent the Imperial College libraries and the old national Science Library (that used to be based at the "Patents" building). Between those two, I had access to just about everything published in English over the last century, apart from some of the smaller US journals. For the major journals, I went through the printed indexes and abstract indexes for everything in the C20th. These libraries also carried some pretty ancient material. That sort of deep access, where you try to follow up everything is something that can't (yet) be done online, although citation databases certainly help. But there are things that are missing from the indexes, or mistyped, or misattributed, which you only notice when you go through the actual journals. And search engines aren't perfect: one important paper on the transverse Doppler effect that I initially missed (Hasselkamp et al, Z. fur Physik) doesn't show in in database searches using the word “transverse”, because the authors had instead chosen to use the word transversal

That sort of deep checking is getting more difficult nowadays, as science libraries move older stock to "off-site" archival facilities.  

Why do you put so much emphasis on Newton? What about (insert underrated C18th European researcher name)?
I'm not able to do justice to sources that aren't available in English. There are multilingual historians who spend their lives researching who should really be given the credit for certain discoveries, and I'm inclined to leave the job to them.
I think that you've misrepresented GR1915's predictions on [insert black hole topic here]. Surely that can't be right?
Go check Kip Thorne's excellent “Black holes and time warps” book. It has a great chapter on the history of dark stars, and covers just about every technical subject to do with black holes that you can think of.   
I'd not heard of acoustic metrics and acoustic horizons. Where can I read more about them?
It's still a comparatively new subject. For a general audience, I uploaded a page on acoustic metrics, on Wikipedia, which might be considered to represent some sort of a community-consensus view – anyone can edit it, but it hasn't been changed much since, other than someone adding some scary-looking equations. For the more technically-minded, Barcelo, Liberati and Visser's review paper at LANL http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/gr-qc/0505065 references an awful lot of recent papers on the topic.  




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