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A First Course in General Relativity [Hardcover]

Bernard Schutz
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 22, 2009 0521887054 978-0521887052 2nd
Clarity, readability and rigor combine in the second edition of this widely-used textbook to provide the first step into general relativity for undergraduate students with a minimal background in mathematics. Topics within relativity that fascinate astrophysical researchers and students alike are covered with Schutz's characteristic ease and authority - from black holes to gravitational lenses, from pulsars to the study of the Universe as a whole. This edition now contains discoveries by astronomers that require general relativity for their explanation; a revised chapter on relativistic stars, including new information on pulsars; an entirely rewritten chapter on cosmology; and an extended, comprehensive treatment of modern detectors and expected sources. Over 300 exercises, many new to this edition, give students the confidence to work with general relativity and the necessary mathematics, whilst the informal writing style makes the subject matter easily accessible.

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A First Course in General Relativity + Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity + Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity
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Editorial Reviews


"Schutz has done a masterful job of incorporating ... new developments into a revised edition, which is sure to become a new "classic." I look forward to teaching out of the second edition of "first course."
Clifford M Will, McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, Washington University, St Louis

"This new edition retains all of the original's clarity and insight into the mathematical foundations of general relativity, but thoroughly updates the accounts of the application of the theory in astrophysics and cosmology, which have moved on considerably ... The result is an indispensable volume for anyone wishing to develop a deep and physically well-motivated understanding of relativistic gravitation, and this new edition will no doubt become a classic text in its own right."
Mike Hobson, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge

"Schutz has updated his eminently readable and eminently teachable A First Course in General Relativity. The result maintains the style of the first edition -- intuitively and physically motivated presentation of the subject. ... This text will be appreciated by any upper level undergraduate with an interest in cosmology, astrophysics, or experimentation in gravitational physics."
Richard Matzner, The Center for Relativity, University of Texas at Austin

"Well laid out, developing logically and amply illustrated. Absolutely recommended."
Times Higher Education Supplement

Book Description

Clarity, readability and rigor combine in the second edition of this widely-used textbook to provide the first step into general relativity for undergraduate students with a minimal background in mathematics. Over 300 exercises give students the confidence to work with general relativity and the necessary mathematics.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (June 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521887054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521887052
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for Self Study! Otherwise OK! October 31, 2011
By Sudesh
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for self study as was recommended by some of the fellow readers but was disappointed to find following issues.

1. Many concepts are not explained fully in the chapters but are rather built into the exercises. As solutions to exercises are not provided in the book it becomes very difficult for understanding the concepts on your own. There is an online file containing solution on Cambridge Universtity press but access to that file is provided only if you are a teacher. This makes the book practically useless for self study.

2. Many equations are given in the book without providing the proper derivation or proof of the equations.

Apart from these drawbacks the book is good and can be useful for students with someone available to explain the concepts. Definitely not for self study.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teach yourself GR using modern geometrical methods July 14, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Schutz clears away the dominant GR textbook tradition...creates an introductory GR firmly within Geometrical Methods of Mathematical Physics drawn from "MTW" (Misner, Thorne, Wheeler) Gravitation (Physics Series). (For smart, thrifty autodidacts...consider purchasing a paperback of Schutz' 1985 edition -- which supplies answers to problems! Available through Amazon.com used book sellers.)

Schutz adopts MTW's most algebraic form of GR. Which means? You can solve real GR problems without exposure to a level of geometric sophistication which can be added later by either of the two texts linked above.

You already know vectors: vector components and base vectors. So, meet their *duals: one-form components and base one-forms. Learn why -- and why it matters -- that the gradient one-form is not a vector (operator). Watch 'c' get dropped from SR equations as just one feature of clear symbolic presentation throughout. Find Einstein's "index gymnastics" easier to master. And discover the terrible tensor as a powerhouse mathematical object -- a "machine" like a Maserati is a machine.

Fear no more the two-headed monster `contravariant' vector and `covariant' vector; hear no more Lorentz transforms wrongly called `rotations'; spend no time sloughing through Maxwell's equations just because it's tradition; be exposed to no more attempts to make real "time" into an imaginary dimension by claiming that 't' is really '-it'. (See MTW p.51 Box 2.1 "Farewell to 'ict'" which briefly, eloquently demonstrates what's right about a geometric approach to GR.)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Schutz assumes basic knowledge of 3D vector calculus. He explains very clearly the essentials of the new mathematics the upper division physics undergraduate must acquire to learn the rudiments of GR, holding the readers hand through one-forms, and tensor calculous. I found it much better than MTW in that regard -- after reading about one-forms in MTW I recall thinking "but this one-form sounds like the gradient of a scalar field, which I learned to be just a *vector*, so what's the difference?!". Schutz anticipates this question and provides the appropriate explanation. (In 3D Cartesian coordinates there's no need to distinguish btw one-forms and vectors because they have identical components. Not so in SR or GR.) I believe this book is also appropriate for self-study (how I'm using it). The problems at the end of the chapters in Schutz are essential. Each problem seems to be well-choosen with the aim of leading the reader to greater understanding without being bogged down in pointless computation. Detailed solutions to almost all the problems up to Chapter 6, and a few comments on the text and the odd typo, can be found on my [...]
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OK or excellent - depends on your taste July 19, 2013
In my opinion, this is a very fine book. Introductory but not too easy.
It was the book used in class attended by a wide range of students where I was teaching the tutorials. But: I found that very few students actually liked the book. Let me talk about why I think this is so.

-about one half missed proper mathematics (more advanced students at graduate level) or at least some diff geo as in Carroll (Bachelor students)
-most students found explanations being not very clear especially later, e.g. in the grav. wave chapter

Let me comment on both points. First, when you consider buying this book you probably already know this is a physics first introductory textbook and do not expect too much differential geometry. Then the first criticism does not apply.
(Also, I found that there was almost no correlation between interest in advanced math and ability to solve (physics) problems in GR / understanding of the physics with the students. My own experience when learning GR was in fact that I got side tracked by the appealing math. I now know this was a mistake. )
By the way, all math that is used in Schutz is introduced in a logical, well motivated, very careful way. At least 2 long chapters are spent on this. The approach is not quite the "old fashioned tensors = transform like this"-way and not the "abstract, modern, math" way.

E.g. in the way introduced it is _physically_ clear that the covariant derivative of the metric vanishes (ultrimately connected to the equivalence principle).
C.f. more mathematical introductions: there the covariant derivative is sometimes just defined to have this property. Decide for yourself which approach you like more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars As clear and concise as possible
There are many books on relativity, but this one is elegantly clear in its derivations and diagrams. Read more
Published 27 days ago by jeff
2.0 out of 5 stars Topic excellent, treatment obscure
I find it difficult to read, and the variation in the notation quite difficult. This is in spite of a reasonable understanding of Special Relativity.
Published 28 days ago by D. Hywel White
5.0 out of 5 stars a good book with resonable price
The book is very new and excellent for some learner who has some background of general relativity. Thank you very much
Published 1 month ago by Mptea038
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introductory book
The theory is really well explained with examples and extra problems. Excellent introductory book. I prefer the hard cover than others.
Published 2 months ago by Guillermo
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but cumbersome notation
I struggled through this book more than I was okay with while learning GR. Originally, I thought it was that difficult of a topic. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Nate
5.0 out of 5 stars Confusing but great!
Its relativity. New symbols and ways of looking at reference frames is bound to be confusing, but the book does a good job at helping you through it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by SliperyNinjaOnATiger
5.0 out of 5 stars GR practitioner: Best introductory text on general relativity
As a specialist in general relativity, I recommend this book to all my undergraduate students. I have reviewed numerous texts, and this one is the most accessible to those without... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Tennis Player
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless as a text
Since the book is well written, why did I give it the lowest possible evaluation? Because the only way to learn physics/math is to do problems, problems, problems until you can do... Read more
Published on July 14, 2011 by R. Detjen, Ph.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernard Schultz, A first Course in General Relativity
This is the best introduction to the General Relativity for undergrads and grads. Rigorous, profound, and stimulating. Read more
Published on July 4, 2011 by Mark
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