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Gravitation (Physics Series) [Paperback]

Charles W. Misner , Kip S. Thorne , John Archibald Wheeler
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 15, 1973 0716703440 978-0716703440 1st
This landmark text offers a rigorous full-year graduate level course on gravitation physics, teaching students to:
• Grasp the laws of physics in flat spacetime
• Predict orders of magnitude
• Calculate using the principal tools of modern geometry
• Predict all levels of precision
• Understand Einstein's geometric framework for physics
• Explore applications, including pulsars and neutron stars, cosmology, the Schwarzschild geometry and gravitational collapse, and gravitational waves
• Probe experimental tests of Einstein's theory
• Tackle advanced topics such as superspace and quantum geometrodynamics
The book offers a unique, alternating two-track  pathway through the subject:
• In many chapters, material focusing on basic physical ideas is designated as
Track 1. These sections together make an appropriate one-term advanced/graduate level course (mathematical prerequisites: vector analysis and simple partial-differential equations). The book is printed to make it easy for readers to identify these sections.
• The remaining Track 2 material provides a wealth of advanced topics instructors can draw from to flesh out a two-term course, with Track 1 sections serving as prerequisites.

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Product Details

  • Series: Physics Series
  • Paperback: 1215 pages
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman; 1st edition (September 15, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716703440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716703440
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 7.7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
145 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction, good overview on applications October 10, 2001
This book can be divided into three logical parts. The first part includes an overview of 4 dimensional physics (spacetime physics, chapter 1), an introduction to special relativity (physics in flat spacetime, chapters 2 to 7), an introduction to the tensor calculus (the mathematics of curved spacetime, chapters 8 to 15) and describes in detail Einstein's general theory of relativity (Einstein's geometric theory of relativity, chapters 16 to 22).
This first part is the best introduction to the theory of relativity I have ever read. The mathematics is introduced in a very comprehensive manner, there are lots of exercises where the reader can get used to the tensor calculus. The physical explanations are just brilliant and what is more important general relativity is introduced in the manner Einstein itself viewed it: as a geometric representation of gravity! Other books on this subject formulate general relativity only algebraically (like quantum theory) but this hides the importance of the idea that all gravitational effects can be extracted from the geometry of spacetime. The algebraic formulation may be regarded as more modern by some authors, it must be said however that no algebraic formulation managed to give more physical insight. The algebraic treatment tries to unify the view of general relativity and quantum field theory, but the physical discrepancies between the two theories remain unsolved.
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102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good reference for advanced, NOT A LOGICAL INTRO to GR February 2, 2005
This book is known as the 'bible' of General Relativity or 'MTW'.

People with different preparation will perceive MTW in different ways:

The beginners in GR very often will feel that the book is a good reference and shows 'properties' of the defined objects instead of explaining the logical necessity of demanding such properties. My first course in GR was based on that book and although I learned some 'index gymnastics' from it, very often I had questions of the type 'where does this come from, why is it defined this way'. Often I would read about something like 'affine parameter' and I would not understand its importance at all.

For beginners I recommend the books from J.Hartle, B. Schutz, D'Inverno, W. Rindler, S. Carroll and R. Wald in order of increasing abstraction (and decreasing usefullness for beginners). I am currently in the middle of course based on the Carroll's book and I understand things I have never ever been able to understand from the 'bible' like the fact that we may define different connections but only one of them is metric compatible and we CHOOSE to work with it, or that we CHOOSE to work with a torsion free connection, or that reparametrizing a geodesic may not give you back a geodesic (in relation to the affine parameter remark above) ... Such facts are either not clearly spelled in the 'bible' or they are digged in somewhere 300 pages away ...

Once you are past your first (or better second) course in GR, that book will be an invaluable reference for you with plenty of examples how to apply different computational and theoretical techniques in GR.

The reviewers that give it high rating are obviously either experienced in the field or are begginners that value a book only because of the well-known authours.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete and excellent coverage April 17, 2006
Gravitation gives a wonderful presentation of general relativity and the mathematics, primarily differential geometry, needed to understand it. Virtually every topic in classical general relativity is well covered. This book has so much to offer it's only possible to give a subjective view of the highlights and things that make the book unique.

It has a very good introduction to special relativity. This not only helps the reader understand special relativity, but it also gives practice with some of the mathematics needed for general relativity. I don't think many (any?) advanced general relativity books cover special relativity this thoroughly. One thing of special note is that there is a chapter devoted to special relativity and accelerated observers. The reason I think this is important is that it's a fairly common misconception that general relativity is needed to deal with acceleration, I wish more books had chapters like this.

The use of electromagnetism to illustrate the use of tensors is fairly extensive. This not only helps readers learn tensor analysis, but will also help them understand electromagnetism better.

Although black holes are covered in virtually every book on general relativity, the discussion here is much more thorough than usual. The material on the dynamics of the Schwarzschild solution is not a perspective most books give. In addition there is very nice coverage of stellar structure.

The exercises are great.

There is a lot of material on experimental general relativity.

The historical anecdotes are interesting.

There are an above average number of illuminating diagrams

The chapter on the Bianchi identities is exceptional, it also hints to the study of homology.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Did not arrive on time!!!
This book was supposed to arrive by today at the latest, not here....thereby ruining our primary Father's Day gift. Read more
Published 26 days ago by T.Rossi
5.0 out of 5 stars See page 991 for an interesting formula of Gravitation
Best Physics book ever printed. Page 991 give the Newtonian plus the Einsteinian plus the rotational contribution of gravity plus the formulae ends with dot dot dot bracket. Read more
Published 6 months ago by peter intrieri
5.0 out of 5 stars It's the bible on gravitation
This is what you must refer to in order to understand the the theory and the issues. It is organized and presented in a way that allows you to dip your toes in the theory before... Read more
Published 7 months ago by F. Joyce
3.0 out of 5 stars Fullfils basic requirements as an guide to the physics regarding...
I found this text basically a good compendium of gravitational physics, relativity and astrophysics, But find his descriptive approach a bit difficult to follow at times. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Walter L. Atchison
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic for a reason
If you wish to truly understand the general theory of relativity this is the place to start. It's treatment is old and hold nothing on the likes of Wald, but it ties in well with... Read more
Published on September 21, 2011 by Sci Researcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Quality
Pretty sure I've already reviewed this, but oh well. I got this for my boyfriend for Christmas, and I ordered it kind of late. Read more
Published on January 16, 2011 by C. Bennetch
3.0 out of 5 stars It was good last century
MTW is OK as a single volume reference book on gravitation. However, it does not TEACH the subject well. Read more
Published on January 11, 2011 by dennisc
5.0 out of 5 stars A tome so massive it has gravitational pull in the relativistic regime
The title of this review says it all. This book has so any topics in it that the book is as big as your old Freshman General Physics text, if not bigger. Read more
Published on October 15, 2010 by Ben the Lucky
1.0 out of 5 stars I thought this book was awful!
I am a retired EE professor, interested in learning something about general relativity in order to apply it to the foundations of electromagnetic field theory. Read more
Published on December 1, 2009 by A. Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars Someone Please Write A Companion Problem Book w/ Solutions
Sure this book is great, but what it really needs for self-study is a two volume companion book which lists all of the exercises with detailed solutions. Read more
Published on July 10, 2008 by Jane
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