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Essential Relativity: Special, General, and Cosmological (Texts and Monographs in Physics) [Paperback]

Wolfgang Rindler
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1980 0387100903 978-0387100906 2 Revised
From the reviews of the second edition: "It is the book par excellence for the nonrelativist who is at home with mathematics...What gives the book its outstanding quality is Professor Rindler's profound understanding of the ideas behind the formulas and his remarkable ability to share this understanding with the reader. In graceful prose he makes deep things simple. Under his guidance the basic concepts come vividly to life and acquire a force of their own so that the mathematics takes on a secondary role...With its combination of substantial mathematics, insight, and physical down-to-earthedness, the book is a delight in every way." American Mathematical Monthly
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Texts and Monographs in Physics
  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Springer-Verlag; 2 Revised edition (November 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387100903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387100906
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #981,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written February 16, 2002
As a modern textbook in the theory of relativity, this book is rare, in that its goal is to give the reader a conceptual introduction to the theory, and not just mathematical formalism. The author also does not hesitate to include some philosophical argumentation wherever needed. It is written for the advanced undergraduate, and will prepare such a reader for more advanced reading in the subject.
The first chapter of the book is the best, for it is a comprehensive discussion of the origins of the theory of relativity as one that rejected the assertion that space and time were absolute. The author also gives an interesting historical discussion of Lorentz's ether theory, wherein Lorentz hypothesized that bodies moving through the ether undergo a contraction, and he discovered a time transformation that implied that clocks moving through the ether run slow. As the author points out, Lorentz thought such considerations were purely mathematical, and not important physically. In addition, in the section on Mach's principle, the author discusses briefly the work of Dennis Sciama who showed that the 1872 gravitational theory of F. Tisserand included Mach's principle. I was not aware of this work, and it motivated me to do further reading on the subject. The author also gives several examples to show that Mach's principle is not physically vacuous, but has observational consequences.
Chapter two overviews the kinematic consequences of the special theory of relativity. The most interesting part of this discussion was the section on the formulation of special relativity without assuming the invariance of the speed of light.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars subtle approach to SR and GR July 14, 1997
By A Customer
Although not the most comprehesive text on
the subject (see Thorne's tome, Gravitation),
Essential Relativity is perhaps the most
fulfilling book from which to learn both special and general relativity on a graduate school level.
Flipping through the pages, one cannot help
but notice that it often reads like a novel.
For the student or the adventurous, a wide
variety of problems are found in an appendix.
The author's background in differential geometry
is very evident in his excellent explanations
of difficult concepts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good book to learn the basic concepts behind relativity beyond the popular science books. It is a mid-level text aimed at an audience familiar with mathematics/physics but less inclined to go through something more comprehensive like Weinberg. Its value is largely in its discussion rather than rigorous derivations and proofs. In fact, it is quite lacking in the mathematical discussion (results occasionally show up with little introduction or explanation). What popular science tries to convey via hand waving and the advanced texts ignore (due to their "philosophical rather than scientific relevance"), this book attempts to correctly explain. Examples would be discussions regarding inertial frames, Mach's principle, and the general physical/philosophical/practical implications of seemingly "benign" results.

I would not recommend this book to learn general relativity (as opposed to special relativity), however. It glosses over several mathematical preliminaries, especially those of tensor calculus. Once the concepts and strategies are understood, the best way to learn general relativity is directly via tensor calculus. Lawden's concise book in this case (Introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology) is undoubtedly one of the best investments to make in this regard. Otherwise, Weinberg is, as mentioned previously, the veritable bible of relativity and related cosmology but is not definitely not something to read sitting in front of the fireplace.

Also be warned, the hardcover copy is of quite poor quality. The pages seem low grade recycled (nothing wrong with that though) and the print is blurry (not crisp).
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relativity in the style of Feynman's Lectures July 18, 1998
This is a wonderful book, very amusing and thought provoking. Without trying to be comprehensive, it sheds much light on the basics of the theory, as well as of the mathematics. His discussion of Mach's principle is brilliant, and ends with a proposal of an experiment to test it with satellites! Very good at computations too, boasting tables for computing the curvature tensor from the metric tensor which are very useful.
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