Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Why Does E=mc2

Why Does E=mc2 by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

Don't ask me how to make the 2 on mc squared go up the top where it belongs in the line above! I may now know how relativity works and how spacetime curves and where mass comes from but I can't manage fancy fonts on Blogger.

I bought this book for my physics A level studying son last Christmas, and decided to give it a go myself. I like a bit of popular science now and again. Not just because I think Brian Cox is dead cute, honestly. (Did you know he was the keyboard player for D:Ream, of Things Can Only Get Better fame?) He is cute though, isn't he?

Anyway, the book. It's written in gloriously simple, sparkly prose which is a joy to read even if you're not understanding what you're reading. While you do have to read a few mathematical equations and get to grips with gluons it is all beautifully explained. At least the first half and the last chapter are. I kind of got lost somewhere in the dark depths of quantum theory. Give me the big stuff to do with stars and planets over teensy weensy quarks and positrons any day.

Well, for once I'm not going to summarise the book or give away the plot. Einstein was a genius and by building on his work physicists can now explain the universe (nearly). As long as the speed of light is a fixed universal speed limit. (Which it may not be, according to recent results from CERN. Oh dear.) Read this if you like science, but give it a miss if your eyes glazed over at the title of this post.