Nemiroff’s explanations are clear and concise, and most of them require only logic to sort out, making the book more accessible than similar titles. He thoughtfully includes illustrations to detail his sometimes-esoteric thought experiments, as when reviewing the history behind measuring light’s speed (which, interestingly, was done rather unsuccessfully by uncovering lanterns from a distance in the Middle Ages). Nemiroff also delves into more complex ideas, including the birth of quantum mechanics and its impact on the study of light’s speed, how Earth’s spin has no effect on the speed of light, and the interplay between photons and light’s speed, among others.
The guide’s Q&A style may feel unwieldy at times, but Nemiroff plainly prefers readers to puzzle out the answers as an exercise in comprehension—even for those dilemmas that seemingly have no certain answer. “My goal is not to bring you complete understanding. That is impossible,” he writes, going on to say, “my goal is to bring you up to my level of misunderstanding.” Any reader with a lay interest in quantum mechanics or the speed of light will find this exercise-rich guide as stimulating as it is challenging.
Takeaway: Complex but entertaining look at the speed of light.
Comparable Titles: Nick Herbert’s Faster Than Light, Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+