Thursday, March 03, 2005

ISBN 1-58949-038-X

The day before yesterday I received two boxes in the mail. One small box was from some friends in Colorado. They had a seen an article that my College's alumni mag had done on a course that I taught about Einstein. So they decided that what I really needed was a tie tack that says E=mc2. It's an elegant thing, and I will wear it with my M. C. Escher "Relativity" tie. What is curious is how appropriate the gift turned out to be.

The second box was much larger, and contained ten free "author" copies of my new relativity textbook. My first book! My first ISBN number! It is pretty exciting, let me tell you, and I have spent a shameful fraction of the last two days showing it to people, grinning, carrying it around, and reading it.

Of course, reading it is dangerous, since I find more typos. (Dang, there's another one.) At least we managed to catch those sign errors in the Lorentz transformation before publication. And nobody will even notice them. No, really, it'll be okay. Except maybe for that whopper in the Preface when I'm thanking everybody. And the wacky numbering of the exercises in Appendix A. And the confusing Greek letters in the paragraph after Equation 12.67. (I'm already putting together the errata sheet.)

My book is published by one of the smaller scientific presses. My editor was very patient and willing to accomodate me, and the process was fairly painless. My book is an introductory textbook on special relativity, which, though not my field of specialty, has been a long-standing love of mine. The publisher also puts out in the same series a general relativity book by a Nobel laureate. Pretty fast company! (Between you and me, my book is a lot better, at least as a textbook. I have exercises and diagrams and everything.) Here is the publisher's page for the book. I note that the blurb and the table of contents there are slightly wrong. For example, I did not give the same title to both Chapters 8 and 9. (Argh! More typos!)

I had a lot of fun writing the book, and I worked hard to make it as entertaining as a physics book is likely to get. There are jokes. I do not know why there aren't more jokes in physics textbooks, especially in a really funny subject like special relativity. There is an exceedingly subtle Seinfeld reference on page 1, which is weird, since I never watched that show. Extra points if you can spot it.

Tell your friends. Recommend it to your book club. Watch for the thoughtful review essay in the New York Times, the big-budget Hollywood blockbuster, the super-cool video game, the line of mass market sequels ghost-written by starving grad students (Physics in Spacetime II: Revenge of the Light Cone). I'll be down in Palm Springs by the pool, living the good life off the royalties.

For now, though, that tie tack from my friends in Colorado is pretty cool.


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1:02 AM  
Blogger bubberz said...


Where did you get the Relativity tie? My dad is looking for one, and I'd like to get it for his birthday!


1:46 PM  

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