“Why does E = mc2 ” is a book about understanding Einstein’s famous formula for expressing the equivalence and relationship between mass and energy and at what regards they are interchangeable. The book delves into the understanding of what space time is and the theories and science behind special relativity and general relativity which Einstein brought to understanding, and which had a large effect on society and our understanding of existence.
The explanations in the book vary between trying to explain with examples on understanding space time and thus the relationship that Einstein realized with his famous equation. The book goes through a journey of explaining step by step the development of understanding needed to fully grasp what such a simple looking equation means.
Generally I felt that the mathematical sections of the book, weren’t exactly very well written, I don’t feel you can really combine explaining maths side by side with explaining a theory very well, the maths sections felt very watered down, because it’s hard to go in-depth with Maths without devoting so much time to it. In this respect, I thought the maths sections should have been cut down a lot, or the whole book based on just them, since they don’t add much to your understanding generally. It wasn’t that they are too hard to understand in their simplified examples, but more that the way it was poised in the book, was just too underwhelming for it to make any impact on your understanding.
The other sections of the book which used analogies to different situations to explain the topics were quite well written and interesting to read when you have a hard time getting your head around what space time is. The most interesting part of the book was really the narrative of how Einstein came up with his famous equation and the different influences. The book wraps up the whole point at the end well also I feel.
One thing that got a bit tiring was how the authors couldn’t help themselves from uttering hyperbole about how “amazing” all these ideas are, I mean yes I understand enthusiasm can breed more enthusiasm from others, but I feel this is a technique better suited to television for Brian Cox, rather than literary works, he goes overboard many times with this type of prose and I feel it lessens the message of the book somewhat because it feels like he’s is attaching an almost celebrity effect to physics to try and get it popular, again I feel this works better on television that in writing.
Overall I think it’s worth reading for it’s explanation for understanding space time, but certain sections of the book are hard to read, and could have been planned a little better such as the maths explanation sections, and with a little less hyperbole, I feel the book would be improved a lot also.