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Minkowski Institute

Vesselin Petkov, Introduction to Spacetime Physics (Minkowski Institute Press, Montreal 2017), 200 pages (Lecture Notes Series, Volume 8).

ISBN: 978-1-927763-21-6 (ebook) - $5

ISBN: 978-1-927763-08-7 (softcover) - $15

Due to unforeseen circumstances the publication of the book was significantly delayed. Expected to appear in 2018.


This textbook is built up from course notes on special relativity which was part of an advanced undergraduate course regularly given at the Physics Department of Concordia University in Montreal and from notes used in a one-semester inter-university seminar on general relativity for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, which was given twice - in the fall semesters of 1994 and 1995 - and attended mostly by graduate physics and mathematics students from the four Montreal Universities.

The book is designed to provide an introduction to the spacetime physics of special and general relativity with an emphasis on the nature of the physical phenomena represented by the mathematical formalism. The main idea is to ensure that students have perfect understanding of what they calculate.

Another advantage of this approach is that it enables students to deal with controversies in relativity. One of the examples, discussed in the book, is the relatively recent controversy over the notion of relativistic mass - there have been some claims in the physics community that mass does not increase relativistically. However, even just two facts taken explicitly into account - the very definition of mass (that mass is defined as the measure of the resistance a particle offers to its acceleration) as well as that, in relativity, acceleration is different in different reference frames - make it immediately clear that the mass of a particle cannot be the same in all frames in relative motion. Proper or rest mass (which is an invariant) and relativistic mass (which is frame-dependent) are exactly like proper time (which is an invariant) and relativistic / coordinate time (which is frame-dependent) [and, to some extent, like proper and relativistic length].