This might be better for IMHO, but since there are objective criteria to judge the book on I thought I would put it here.
So, what is the best book for a layman to read to get an understanding of Special Relativity?
I have been considering either:
Space and Time in Special Relativity by N. David Mermin
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity by Max Born
But since I am not an expert I thought I would ask everyone her what they thought.
While not specifically about SR, I found the first few chapters of Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe” to be among the clearest explainations about SR that I have encoutered.
Special Relativity isn’t that difficult to understand, to tell the truth I don’t think an explanation from an introductory text book on the theory of relativity would be to difficult for someone with a high school physics eductaion to understand.
That said I agree with Shalmanese, Brian Greene’s explanation is very goodn (I bought the book cheaply from a second-hand shop yesterday and it’s actually about superstring theory).
I haven’t read the Born book. Nor do I suppose I counted as a layman when I read Mermin’s, but I can vouch that Space and Time in Special Relativity is an accurate and through attempt at such an introduction.
It does assume a shade more background knowledge of mathematics than is normal in such books: Mermin’s own assessment is “elementary algebra, plane geometry, and (occasionally) triginometry.” On the other hand, as a step up from simple popularisations, there are nice discussions of things like the “barn and pole”, which are fun to get your head round.
How about an online source?
Any good website on the subject?
I’ve got good maths skills, but I’m not willing to tackle equations longer than this sentence.
Ah, I knew I had this somewhere: Relativity explained with no words over 4 letters long