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Gravitation

4.4 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0716703440
ISBN-10: 0716703440
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1279 pages
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman (September 15, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716703440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716703440
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 2.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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