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The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics) New Ed Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521099066
ISBN-10: 0521099064
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...an excellent set of reviews of some of the most exciting areas of research in gravitational physics...I have not found a comparable compilation of valuable information on the current status of general relativity." American Scientist

Book Description

This 1973 book discusses Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and its two remarkable predictions: first, that the ultimate destiny of many massive stars is to undergo gravitational collapse and to disappear from view, leaving behind a 'black hole' in space; and secondly, that there will exist singularities in space-time itself.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Monographs on Mathematical Physics
  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New Ed edition (March 28, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521099064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521099066
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAME on January 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is now a classic and is written by two giants in mathematics and physics. It wil be used for many years to come and is certainly one of the most widely quoted in the subject.
The authors begin the book by a discussion of the role of gravity in physics and its role as determining the causal structure of the universe. They introduce the idea of a closed trapped surface, setting the stage for the goal of the book, namely the study of the conditions under which a space-time singularity must occur. Black holes and the beginning of the universe are cited as examples of these singularities. The authors also outline briefly the content of each chapter. A neat argument is given for the significance of focal points via the use of Raychaudhari's equation.
The second chapter is an overview of the background in differential geometry needed in the rest of the book. Although complete from an axiomatic point of view, the approach is much too formal for readers who do not have a knowledge of differential geometry. Such a reader should gain the necessary background elsewhere.
General relativity as a theory of gravitation is discussed in chapter 3. Spacetime is assumed to be a connected 4-dimensional smooth manifold on which is defined a Lorentz metric. The topology is assumed to be Hausdorff. Some of the more interesting or well-written parts of this chapter include the example of a spacetime that is not inextendible, the determination of the conformal factor for the spacetime metric, and the discussion of alternative field equations.
The authors discuss the physicial significance of curvature in chapter 4, namely its effect on families of timelike and null curves.
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Format: Paperback
The early seventies saw a revolution in cosmology; for the first time, modern mathematical methods were applied to the discipline, with intriguing results. This book was (along with Penrose's articles) the seminal work in global general relativity. Often overlooked is that the first half of Hawking & Ellis is devoted to traditional GR via the tensor calculus, and the q-form conception. However, trying to learn GR with this volume is not recommended (instead, cf. D'Inverno). The meat-and-potatoes of the book is the discussion of gravitational collapse, and the singularity theorems. They provide us with intuitively good reasons for believing in some very strange phenomenon. If you're interested in the frontiers of modern science, and have the appropriate mathematical background, this book cannot be recommended too highly. The little yellow book stands supreme in the hierarchy of works of modern physics.
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Format: Paperback
This book of Stephen Hawking is the more elegant one on modern General Relativity and is my favorite book. It covers in brilliant form the gravitational collapse of a star, the theory of black holes, the space-time singularities, the causal structure of space-time, and in its end the initial singularity of the universe, popularly known as the Big Bang. The book is highly mathematical, and is pressuposed that the reader have studied basic abstract algebra and point set topology. But, for the readers highly interested in these subjects(as I am), this is not a obstacle. All theoretical physicists interested in modern General Relativity should have this book, a testimony of the Genius of Stephen Hawking. Definitively, a magnific book.
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One can find--in various Journals (Science, Nature, Contemporary Physics)--scholarly reviews of this scholarly tome.
Therefore, it behooves me to add anything of substance, as the terrain has been expatiated in those academic journals.
Be that as it may, I do hope to add my personal perspective on a book which has taken me many a year to digest.
The pertinent word, above, being "many," as this is not a monograph to be taken lightly---it demands undivided attention.
If one encounters this book with (at minimum) a prior exposure to General Relativity, it opens up an entirely new world.
There is so much to say, so much to cover in this review, that I will most certainly forget to say something of value.
Thus, regardless of what I do---or, do not--write, I will say without further ado that a serious researcher can hardly afford to ignore
this Classic. As with many other monographs, the term "Classic" is much hyped, yet, rarely defined. One definition would be--
this book ! The authors state that the book can be assimilated with prerequisites of "..simple calculus, algebra and point set topology."
I am not sure that the vast majority of readers would concur with that statement, but, at least it does hint at some guidance.
As many have noted, Chapter Two, of mathematical preliminaries ( Differential Geometry) is terse.
However, I urge the prospective student to assimilate this chapter, for, at least, these five reasons:
(1) Page 16: will give one a simple means to visualize one-forms.
(2) Page 23: will define Diffeomorphism-- and, that is a definition which must become a part of one's vocabulary---as it is used
everywhere, and often, in this text !
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