In honor of his new book coming out February 24th, author Ira Egdall has kindly agreed to answer a few questions for you guys. But first, a little about Ira and his new book. Read my review of the book here (if you like science, you will love it). This post is part of the Virtual Book Tour Cafe tour.
Book: Einstein Relatively Simple: Our Universe Revealed
Genre: Popular Science
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Buy it: Amazon
About the Author
Ira Mark Egdall is also the author of the eBook Unsung Heroes of the Universeand a popular science writer for DecodedScience.com. He is a retired aerospace program manager with an undergraduate degree in physics from Northeastern University. Mark now teaches lay courses in modern physics at Lifelong Learning Institutes at Florida International University, the University of Miami, and Nova Southeastern University. He also gives entertaining talks on Einstein and time travel. When not thinking about physics, Mark spends his time playing with his grandchildren and driving his wife of 45 years crazy.
Einstein Relatively Simple brings together for the first time an exceptionally clear explanation of both special and general relativity. It is for people who always wanted to understand Einstein’s ideas but never thought it possible.
Told with humor, enthusiasm, and rare clarity, this entertaining book reveals how a former high school drop-out revolutionized our concepts of space and time. From E=mc2 and everyday time travel to black holes and the big bang, the book takes us all, regardless of any scientific background, on a mindboggling journey through the depths of Einstein’s universe.
Along the way, we track Einstein through the perils and triumphs of his life — follow his thinking,
his logic, and his insights — and chronicle the audacity, imagination, and sheer genius of the man
recognized as the greatest scientist of the modern era.
My Interview with Ira
What sparked your interest in bringing complicated scientific theories to the masses?
I always loved modern physics. I felt everyone should know about the strange new reality it reveals, not just experts. Then, while working in aerospace, I came across a book by the great Richard Feynman (QED) which explained his quantum theory to non-experts — just using little arrows. It was brilliant. I then read Einstein’s popularization on relativity. It was a bit stilted but wonderful. “I could teach this,” I thought. So in my spare time I created lay courses in modern physics, which I now teach. Einstein Relatively Simple is based on these courses.
Do you believe that anyone can understand theoretical science?
My students come from all walks of life. Most have no prior physics training. Their enthusiastic response to my classes has surprised and encouraged me. It shows that most everyone interested in how the universe works can understand the core ideas of modern physics at some level.
Is physics your favorite science, or do you prefer another branch?
Physics is my favorite. I am also fascinated by biology, especially evolution and the science of the brain.
What was your favorite part about being an aerospace program manager?
A winning proposal, and the knowledge there would be a new contract to help keep us all employed.
What piece of advice would you give someone interested in learning more about the higher sciences?
Read, read, read. Question, question, question. Seek out educational opportunities in you desired field, both formal and informal. Join and participate in on-line science forums, like scienceforums.net.
Do you believe there is scientific evidence that time travel is possible? What about traveling backwards in time?
Time travel is not only possible, we do it all the time! Every time we leave a place and return, we travel a little bit into the future. This is due to our motion there and back — it’s called time dilation. Whenever we go to a higher altitude, we travel a little into the future. And when we go to a lower altitude, we travel into the past. This is called gravitational time dilation. At every day speeds and in the relatively weak gravity of Earth, these effects are so small we don’t notice them. But they are real. They have been verified on atomic clocks in laboratories, in airplanes, on rockets, and on satellites. (I explain all this in Chapter 11 of Einstein Relatively Simple.)
What was your favorite part of Einstein Relatively Simple to write?
Oh, it was all such a challenge and so much fun at the same time. I guess it was the fanciful stories, like the alien abduction with Aristox and Ignetzriblebop, or when Maynar and Caleb on Neutronium had to give one of their twin babies up for adoption. I enjoyed making up wild tales to entertain the reader and make Einstein’s ideas easier to understand.
If readers want to learn more about you or Einstein’s scientific discoveries, where should they go?
You can find more about me on my author website, iramarkegdall.com (under construction) and the website for my courses, marksmodernphysics.com. For more on Einstein’s discoveries, Walter Isaacson’s Einstein, His Life and Universe is an excellent biography. Brian Greene’s popular science books, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, are lucid and beautifully written. A full list of further reading is given at the back of Einstein Relatively Simple, from easier to more difficult.
I enjoyed the interview. Thank you for the thought-provoking questions.
Thanks for your time, Ira!
One or two hard copies, a few or more softbacks all signed by the author.