Relativity for Bay Area Dogs, Among Others

Two How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog items:

First and foremost, I’ll be appearing at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, CA, this Thursday, June 14 at 7:00pm. I’ll probably read a bit of the book, so if you’ve ever wanted to hear me do the silly dog voice live, here’s your chance. Provided, of course, that you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, or will be this Thursday night.

This will be my second trip to California in as many weeks, because all last week I was at DAMOP in Anaheim (the Chain-Restaurant-est Place on Earth). I spent a fair bit of time there explaining the whole talking-to-the-dog book thing to fellow atomic physicists, some of whom had heard about it in the Times and elsewhere. A lot of them expressed some skepticism about the talking-to-the-dog device, which is not at all surprising– I was kind of dubious about it, myself, when it was first suggested that I do a book based on that.

So it was very appropriate for the vanity search to cough up a couple of reviews, one of each book, that nicely illustrate both ends of the reader response spectrum (while both being generally positive, because I’m not without vanity…): Mark on Stuff read How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog, and calls the inclusion of the dog conversations a masterstroke, while Charles Paolino likes the explanations in How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog, but finds that the conversations with Emmy get tiresome.

And that’s about the range of responses I expect– the talking-dog conceit isn’t going to work for everyone. There were points in the process, when I looked at how many odd little jokes and references I threw in there, when I was skeptical that it would work for anyone who isn’t me… But I’ve been really happy to find out that so many people enjoy the silly parts. And, really, since my main fear in the second book was having people with deeper knowledge of general relativity than I have discover some giant glaring error in those chapters, it’s weirdly gratifying that the only complaints I’ve seen have been about the dog jokes.