Calculation-heavy coverage of developments in physics over the 20th century.
Schenker starts his book, the first in what appears to be a series, with an overview of classical mechanics, focusing on transformation formulas and their applications and consequences. He takes a detailed look at the Lorentz transformation equations of rigid bodies (i.e., coordinate transformations) and, in many pages of equations, goes into more detail as he outlines the issues with length contraction and time dilation. For instance, “Now according to Special Relativity,” he says, “the time dilation effect should not be directionally dependent. And if the effect were examined with just respect to the mechanics underlying the design and function of the atomic clocks the values should equal according to the Principle of Relativity.” His attention then turns to Maxwell-Lorentz equations (or systems of equations), which he details at length as well. After this initial overview, Schenker turns his gaze toward areas of electrodynamics, which he investigates with pages upon pages of calculations. In fact, there are limited discussions from this point forward, just equations, and the grasp of mathematics required to follow along is quite formidable. Much of the text can feel like a quick romp through graduate-level physics—a feeling not unrealized by the author. “This work is designed for upper-graduate and graduate students and anyone familiar with Calculus, linear algebra, electrodynamics, and electromagnetism,” he says. That “familiarity” is a bit of an understatement. The work is academic through and through, which might be exactly what some students and passionately curious enthusiasts want. But if you’re hoping for an accommodating primer on classical and modern physics, you’ll need to start somewhere else.
A dense and thorough look at advanced scientific concepts.