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Description of It's About Time: Elementary Mathematical Aspects of Relativity

This book has three main goals. First, it explores a selection of topics from the early period of the theory of relativity, focusing on particular aspects that are interesting or unusual. These include the twin paradox relativistic mechanics and its interaction with Maxwell's laws the earliest triumphs of general relativity relating to the orbit of Mercury and the deflection of light passing near the sun and the surprising bizarre metric of Kurt Godel, in which time travel is possible. Second, it provides an exposition of the differential geometry needed to understand these topics on a level that is intended to be accessible to those with just two years of university-level mathematics as background. Third, it reflects on the historical development of the subject and its significance for our understanding of what reality is and how we can know about the physical universe. The book also takes note of historical prefigurations of relativity, such as Euler's 1744 result that a particle moving on a surface and subject to no tangential acceleration will move along a geodesic, and the work of Lorentz and Poincare on space-time coordinate transformations between two observers in motion at constant relative velocity.The book is aimed at advanced undergraduate mathematics, science, and engineering majors (and, of course, at any interested person who knows a little university-level mathematics). The reader is assumed to know the rudiments of advanced calculus, a few techniques for solving differential equations, some linear algebra, and basics of set theory and groups.