Book Review: The Manga guide to Relativity

This book takes a “novel” approach to teaching Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity. Since the book is geared toward teenagers, it takes the form of a graphic novel adventure.

Each chapter in the graphic novel is followed by a standard text section (with diagrams and, horrors, algebraic equations) that complements and expands on the principals covered in the graphic portion. The device of a graphic novel and standard text also allows one to gain some familiarity with the subject by reading just the novel or just the text, but read both since they are complementary.

After a short section to set up the graphic novel premise, the story begins with a review of classic Newtonian physics and then shows how Einstein turned physics on its head. We delve into time warps, the bending of space, and examine some classic paradoxes that result from the sometimes mind-boggling implications of Einstein’s theories.

The authors use some interesting analogies. For instance, they use Pythagorean theory, that we all learned in high-school geometry class (didn’t we?), to prove time dilation of objects traveling close to the speed of light. They also explain how both the Special and General theories make GPS (global positioning systems) possible.

If you were at all interested in the weird world of relativity, but thought you could not understand the concepts, try this book. Its unique approach can help you understand.

The author, Masafumi Yamamoto, and the supervising editor, Hideo Nitta are both PhD. physicists. The book was illustrated by Keita Takatsu.

The book is available from Amazon and this, and other Manga science books are available from No Starch Press (“the finest in geek entertainment”) here.

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