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Re: [Phys-L] proper acceleration, proper time, proper length, spacetime geometry and trigonometry

On 11/04/2014 05:20 PM, Larry Smith asked:

Which introductory (freshman, sophomore level) Modern Physics
textbooks would you recommend that adopt and espouse the modern (post
1908) spacetime viewpoint?

I probably understand the question only partially, but
let me say a few things that might be helpful:

1) A decent stand-alone reference is
Thomas Moore
_Six Ideas That Shaped Physics: Unit R_
_Laws of Physics are Frame-Independent_

It is remarkably pricey for a slim ill-manufactured
booklet, but most of the good stuff is there.

2) The first edition of
Taylor & Wheeler
_Spacetime Physics_

was very influential. Very impressive little book. For
some students, this was the first physics book they ever
saw that had any semblance of class, of panache. It took
something that seemed ugly and complicated and showed it
to be simple and elegant.

Then, as sometimes happens with people, the book gained
weight and got uglier as it got older. I'm referring
to the second edition, which spends far too much time
talking about length contraction, time dilation, various
notions of velocity-dependent mass, and other stuff that
really should be left out entirely. I assume there was
market pressure from people who "expected" the book to
cover the archaic (pre-1908) approach, not just the
modern (post-1908) approach.

Still, under the guidance of a skillful teacher, the
2nd edition could be used to excellent effect.

3) If the question was intended to ask about an all-
purpose intro physics text incorporating a decent
discussion of relativity, I've got nothing for you.
We agree that relativity "ought" to be integrated into
the curriculum at all levels; I've just never seen it
done competently at the intro level, except as noted
in item (4) below.

Indeed, I've got nothing squared, because even if we
skip any discussion of relativity, I'm not happy with
any of the current intro physics books I've seen.

Naturally, there could be some perfectly fine books
out there that I don't know about.

4) To answer a slightly different question:
At the introductory /high school/ level the PSSC
physics book says a few things about relativity.
It doesn't exactly "espouse" or emphasize the
modern viewpoint, but everything it says is fully
/consistent/ with the modern viewpoint.

This is significant insofar as it serves as an
existence proof: you can talk about relativity to
a very young audience without saying anything they
will have to unlearn later.

5) At the other end of the scale in terms of thoroughness,
the first few chapters of MTW provide excellent coverage
of special relativity, using a fully modern no-nonsense
Misner, Thorne, Wheeler

This book is a masterpiece. Classic. Classy. The
track-1 sections are easy to read (at the level of
an upper-division physics major), even poetic in
paces. Some of the track-2 sections are very, very

6) If the question was meant to ask about a "Modern
Physics" book, again I've got nothing. The books
I know that fit that description are not aimed at
the introductory level, nor at the general population.
They tend to be aimed at physics majors who have
already completed the introductory course.

Again there could be perfectly fine books out there
that I don't know about.