From 3.5 billion Reddit comments

40 points

·
5th Dec 2018

did it take reading this letter to discover that lmao

edit: for everyone saying "well hes a scientist so no way to tell." Read this: https://www.amazon.com/Relativity-Special-General-Original-Version/dp/1542472377

He wrote it. Published in 1916, 40 years before this letter.

His abstract:

>Relativity: The Special and the General Theory began as a short paper and was eventually published as a book written by Albert Einstein with the aim of giving: "an exact insight into the theory of relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics.

1 point

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2nd Dec 2020

He actually wrote a book on relativity for casual audiences, and like most scientists had to write his ideas up in formal papers. The book is pretty dry, though, so he was no Stephen King.

1 point

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21st Sep 2022

The most comprehensive, most precise, and most accurate theory detailing what we know about the nature of time is undoubtedly general relativity. There is arguably no better resource for understanding the nature of time than a textbook on general relativity.

However, you are correct that understanding time is very difficult — after all general relativity is graduate-degree material; you basically need a degree in physics with plenty of higher math (including differential equations and tensor calculus) to even *start* properly learning the subject. So, a textbook on GR is not something you can just pick up and read; it's something one needs to pursue prerequisite knoweldge for many years to dive into.

>I'd like to have a compilation of the bests resources for it (books, sites, articles, etc.) in PLAIN language, which doesn't necessarily mean just for beginners.

The closest thing to a plain-language overview aimed at laymen with nothing more than a high school knowledge of physics might be Relativity: the Special and the General Theory, written by Albert Einstein himself, for the express purpose of explaining the gist of his theories to laymen in a mathematically minimal way. In the book — which avoids anything more complicated than some straightforward algebra — Einstein meticulously walks you through a variety of thought experiments and his own personal reasoning, starting with the very most basic building blocks (such as what a clock and ruler are, and how/why it they are useful for measuring distances and durations), through concepts like reference frames and the Lorentz transformation laws that govern them, consequences of those laws such as length contraction and time dilation, the relativity of simultaneity, causality, as well as the modern understanding of time as simply one part of the larger construct we call spacetime, and the close relationship between the two — including for example, the fact that two different reference frames will have two different time axes, and that due to transformation laws between these frames, one person's time axis is partly pointed in another person's spatial direction (which is why space and time cannot really be spoken of in isolation of each other without mentioning the other; they are as inexplicably linked as electricity and magnetism are, where a complete description of one necessitates a description of the other).

The focus of the book isn't time specifically, but frankly without a solid grasp of the fundamental concepts of relativity, there is no other exposition on time you could receive that would not lead you astray and cause you to become confused about the nature of time.

If you want to explore the philosophy of time, I'd start by understanding the physics that governs time first. "Doing the work" of learning the underlying physics is simply *necessary* for building a proper understanding time. Otherwise it'd be like trying to learn about algebra without first knowing how to do basic arithmetic, adding and subtracting numbers; that would just be silly, wouldn't it? Likewise, trying to understand the nature of time without first knowing how time actually behaves quantitatively in experiments would also be silly.

So, my advice to you is to learn the physics first, and *then* worry about learning philosophy of time, so you don't end up looking and feeling silly. :)

Hope that helps,

1 point

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8th Apr 2021

It's not a video or a lecture exactly, but you may want to consider picking up a translated copy of the book *Relativity: The Special and General Theory* by Albert Einstein. They are available for quite cheap, and if you wanted it in a format closer to a lecture you could always get an audiobook version of it.

Einstein himself wrote the book (originally in German, but the translation to English is solid) specifically to help laymen who have no formal education in math or physics beyond high school, to give them a basic functional understanding of what both special and general relativity are all about. It does not contain any advanced mathematics — it's all done in simple algebra, the kind a high school graduate would be familiar with — but it does go into calculating things like length contraction, time dilation, Lorentz transformations, and explores all the core concepts ... things like relativity of simultaneity, spacetime curvature, and the equivalence principle.

Moreover, Einstein approaches these concepts by deducing them in a "ground-up" fashion from extremely simple concepts. For example, he starts the book off talking for some time about what do we really mean when we talk about measuring distances and durations, and he delves into what makes a good ruler and clock, and then walks you through how exactly relativity must be correct based on the simple empirical measurements that you can make using nothing more than a fancy ruler and clock. He walks you through many of the same thought experiments that he pondered over when formulating his theories: that of a train moving relative to the ground, and that of being in an elevator compared to being in free-fall, etc.

Since it's written directly by Einstein himself, the language can be just a little bit ... curious, at times. :P But it is pretty neat how it reveals a bit about how he thought about the world and how he reasoned through some of these problems ... he meticulously walks you through even the little assumptions that most of us would normally gloss over, so that there can be no doubt about the correctness of his conclusions.

Now, in terms of the mathematics contained in the book, the algebra alone is really enough to understand special relativity — special relativity is not a particularly complicated theory, mostly anyone who did well in high school physics should have no problem grasping even the complicated parts of special relativity, with a little earnest effort. However, he does not go deeply into the profoundly more complex mathematics that *general* relativity requires. A lot of the mathematics of general relativity simply gets glossed over because it is far too complicated for a layman to understand without any special mathematical training. If you are looking for a resource which will go through the complicated math of general relativity, arguably your best bet might be to consult textbooks on general relativity, perhaps after taking more than a few college courses on things like differential equations, and the mathematics of tensors. That rabbit hole goes quite deep ... there's not going to be any single lecture or video, or even a compilation of lectures or videos, which can cover everything you'll need. Pretty much the only suitable way to dig into all of that is to actually pursue a graduate degree in physics and/or mathematics. :P That stuff takes years of hard work to absorb.

Hope that helps,

0 points

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30th May 2019

Einstein understood why it worked pretty damn well. I've read Relativity by Einstein which is his own account not just of what the Special and General theories of Relativity say, but how he came up with them. Try to actually know something before you condescend like this next time.

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