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Gravity from the Ground Up: An Introductory Guide to Gravity and General Relativity Hardcover – January 26, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0521455060 ISBN-10: 0521455065 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 490 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (January 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521455065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521455060
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...the text is...inviting, with exercises that have real-world application, such as exploring the energy of photons that cause sunburn." Stuart J. Goldman, Sky & Telescope

"Delightfully throrough yet easy to read." American Scientist

Book Description

This book provides an accessible introduction to astronomy and general relativity, aiming to explain the Universe, not just to describe it. Written by an expert in relativity who is known for his clearly-written advanced textbooks, the treatment uses only high-school level mathematics, supplemented by optional computer programs, to explain the laws of physics governing gravity from Galileo and Newton to Einstein. It is suitable for use as a university textbook for introductory physics and astronomy courses. More casual readers can skip the mathematical sections and still follow the development.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By physics on October 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is possibly the best book i own. The book basically covers "all" the important topics in gravity, cosmology and astrophysics. For example equivalence principle, general relativity, gravitational waves, neutron stars, black holes, even a bit of quantum gravity (especially in last chapter) etc etc.

Though i must warn that anyone who reads this book might accidentally turn into a theoretical physicist. Its that fascinating/exciting really and it really makes one feel that this is a special time in theoretical physics (waiting for quantum gravity and new astronomical observations and theories). In this respect it is somewhat similar to popular books.

But i wouldnt call this a popular science book, since it goes deeper into things. For example i have Schutz's "First course in general relativity" and i think that up to the chapter on Einstein's equation it is easier than this. The reason is probably that this book doesnt use explicit calculus (well in a way it does with finite differences) or tensors; for example the chapter dealing with differential geometry and general relativity was pretty difficult to understand without tensors, but it gives very nice intuitive understanding for differential geometry/general relativity. There were other places were i understood something i havent really ever understood but was well explained here. All in all, this is an excellent book on gravity and cosmology and i recommend it to anyone.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By E. Debie on May 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to understand relativity, and tried many books. Up to know i met two kinds of books, the ones which i could not understand because they are to difficult, and the ones with a minimum of math, which are incomplete and oversimplified. I did not understand everything (e,g the Einstein equation and tensors) but most of this book gives me a deep insight in the beauty of relativity, cosmology and astronomy in a way no other book has done.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John F. Leamons on August 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How many authors of popular science books begin their books by boasting that they can teach real science to readers who have no math--or no math beyond basic algebra? And then what do you get? Either a tub full of metaphors sloshing about promiscuously or else a math course so compressed it would leave Newton saying, "Duh?" But not in this book. Bernard Schutz takes the reader by the hand and leads him gently on. There is scarcely a bump in the road; yet, by the end of the book, you've not only learned a good deal of physics, astrophysics and cosmology, you've also gotten an inkling of how a physicist thinks. How does Schutz manage to succeed where failure is the rule? Well, partly by magic, I think. But partly by the clever use of simple computer simulations (downloadable for free) and partly by means of a very carefully thought out pedagogical strategy. This gentleman is a teacher par excellence. If you're only going to read one science book in your life, read this one. Just be prepared to spend some time with it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By reader on January 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly wonderful book. It is suitable for those with little physics and math backgrounds as well as those with more. It is, in fact, incredible how much one can learn here with so little math about topics normally associated with advanced math. In addition to learning many new things, I got great new insights into what I thought I already knew.

I went to this book to learn about general relativity and cosmology. I got that and so much more. The book covers many fascinating topics about the earth, the solar system, galaxies, and brings in physics concepts when they are needed. A recurring theme is the effect of gravity and what resists gravity. So, e.g., white dwarfs are explained by quantum effects resisting complete collapse due to gravity. In addition to learning a lot about general relativity, you get introduced to some aspects of mechanics, statistical mechanics and quantum theory. All this while learning a great deal about astronomy and cosmology.

Calculus isn't required and most of the demonstrations are done with physical arguments, analogies, and simple algebra. Computer programs are available from a website for those who want to use them to illustrate numerical results. (You don't need to use the programs to enjoy the book.) Of course, further study will, at some point, require more math. But this book demonstrates how much can be explained with the simplest concepts, and would be worthwhile for someone to read before getting immersed in the higher math.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Mosier on June 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me start by saying that I absolutely love this book. If it was just the book, I would have rated it 5-stars. The author's explanations are very well thought out, and extremely interesting. They are also technically correct. Now, I am also working through (very slowly) this author's book, "A First Course in General Relativity." That book definitely is not for the math timid or math deficient. At times, I wonder if my own math skills, rusty after 30 years out of college, are up to the challenge. But for GFTGU, the math is no problem. It is a GREAT book.

So what's the problem? Why only 2 stars? Well, the software so prominently mentioned in the ads for this book, and so prominently a part of the authors presentation IN the book, are no longer available for download. The book website is still there, the exercise answers are there. But the link for downloading the software leads to a site that was closed in December 2010. Seems like that is long enough for an alternate to have been found. Bring back the Software, and this will turn into a 5-star review.
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