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Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0805386622
ISBN-10: 0805386629
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The aim of this groundbreaking new book is to bring general relativity into the undergraduate curriculum and make this fundamental theory accessible to all physics majors. Using a "physics first" approach to the subject, renowned relativist James B. Hartle provides a fluent and accessible introduction that uses a minimum of new mathematics and is illustrated with a wealth of exciting applications. The emphasis is on the exciting phenomena of gravitational physics and the growing connection between theory and observation. The Global Positioning System, black holes, X-ray sources, pulsars, quasars, gravitational waves, the Big Bang, and the large scale structure of the universe are used to illustrate the widespread role of how general relativity describes a wealth of everyday and exotic phenomena.

About the Author

James B. Hartle was educated at Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology where he completed a Ph.D. in 1964. He is currently Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His scientific work is concerned with the application of Einstein's relativistic theory of gravitation (general relativity) to realistic astrophysical situations, especially cosmology.

Professor Hartle has made important contributions to the understanding of gravitational waves, relativistic stars, and black holes. He is currently interested in the earliest moments of the Big Bang where the subjects of quantum mechanics, quantum gravity, and cosmology overlap.

He has visited Cambridge often since 1971 and has collaborated closely with Stephen Hawking over many years, most notably on their famous "no boundary proposal" for the origin of the universe. Professor Hartle is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a past director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson (January 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805386629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805386622
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Many beginners in GR don't have a rudimentary intuitive understanding of what 4-vectors are and how to use them in a simple physical problem. This textbook helps with that - it gives you a workout in using 4-vectors and thinking geometrically about spacetime. It teaches you the basic notions of metric, embedding diagrams, hypersurfaces, observers carrying their orthonormal bases and performing measurements, geodesics, coordinate transformations, curvature and energy tensors. Along the way, it manages to explore in detail the three most important metrics in GR: black holes (static and rotating), cosmological models of the universe and gravitational radiation. The book covers the conceptual foundations (how Einstein developed the idea), the mathematical machinery, the analysis of the historical confirmations of GR as well as many contemporary observations like gravitational lensing, cosmic background radiation, or acceleration of the universe expansion (by the way the cosmological chapters are the most logical introduction to cosmology I've seen), even future experiments like gravity probe B that is going to measure the 'frame dragging' around Earth.

In the first 400 pages the book is exploring different metrics by calculating physical observable quantities like redshift, orbits, bending of light and so on using 4-vectors only. There are many examples that show you actual calculations right after a new concept is introduced and help you learn thinking in terms of 4-vectors. The usual tensor analysis, curvature, covariant derivative and Einstein equation are introduced in the last 100 pages.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the best book for understanding gravity mathematically at the level of an advanced undergraduate. Though intended for the classroom (and based on a class at UCSB) there are many aspects of this book which make it nearly ideal for self-study:

* interesting side-bars, with some math

* thorough details in mathematical explanations

* never too much repetition of covered material

* moves from special cases (with applications) to more general cases, allowing the student to learn a little at a time (which is rare in books on general relativity)

The only downside is that it doesn't go quite as far into recent theories as you might like. This is fine for me as I, as a complete layman, would rather understand a bit of relativity well--something I missed in my undergraduate physics training.
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Format: Hardcover
Most books I read about GR assume that you are some kind of math genius who after a few pages where you are introduced to stuff such as "vectors as directional derivatives" etc; you are supposed to be able to master differential geometry, curved spacetime and all the mathematical equipment of GR.

James Hartle's book is nothing like that. The reader gets to the physics of GR with math he can actually understand (Newtonian and Lagrangian formalism of Mechanics is enough as a background)and equations he can derive easily for himself. It's amazing that just at the 9th chapter of the overall 24 chapters of the book you can see derived the easiest way the orbits of a particle outside a black hole!

In short, Hartle starts where the other books about GR end, that is with the physics. And he ends where the other books begin, that is with the difficult math. This is, in my opinion, what makes this book so interesting and where all his beaty and strength lies in.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a successful textbook covering intermediate levels between advanced undergraduate and graduate. This was long-sought book for senior students who understood special relativity and wanted to learn general relativity. Ofcourse those of Misner-Thorne-Wheeler and Weinberg are the classics in the field and Wald is the best known graduate text. But Hartle's text is a very good introduction for undergrads from other branches of Science and Engineering and for Physics as well. I personally was looking for a good introductory text for GR and I would congratulate Jim Hartle for being the author of this marvelous piece who is also a forerunner in the gravitational research.
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Format: Hardcover
Not many books on gravitation are clear and concise but this one is.

I have the big Bible "Gravitation" from Wheeler but then if you are

using for introductory course then this one is the best. It assumes that reader is new to this subject and proceeds step by step. Tensors are introduced as they are needed in the text so that you don't get lot of information at once. The chapters are as follows,

1: Gravitational Physics

2: Space, Time, and Gravity in Nwt physics.

3: Principles of SR.

4: SR Mechanics

5: Gravity as Geometry.

6: The Description of Spacetime.

7: Geodesics

8: The Geometry Outside a Spherical Star.

9: Solar System Test of GR

10: Relativistic Gravity in Action.

11: Gravitational Collasp and Black Holes.

12: Astrophysical Black Holes.

13: A Little Rotation.

14: Rotating Black Holes.

15: Gravitational Waves.

16: The Universe Observed.

17: Which Universe and Why?

18: A Little more Math.

19: Curvature and Einstein Equation.

20: The Source of Curvature.

21: Gravitational Wave Emmision.

22: Relativistic Stars.

I guess it's a very good text for the introduction to GR. Less math than Weinberg but precisely good. If you are considering an intro to GR, Gravitation then this would be a good choice. The price is also very reasonable.
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