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A good book on General/Special Relativity.

  1. Jul 5, 2011 #1
    (I'll prefix by apologizing if this is the wrong section to post in)

    I am wondering if anyone knows a good book on the topic of General/Special Relativity. I have tried searching for one but all the ones I have found are either too basic with no math (or I guess physics) at all, or literal textbooks.

    I have already read A Brief History of Time (S. Hawking) and Black Holes and Time Warps (K. Thorne) and neither really gave me the level of depth I was hoping for.

    I am comfortable with equations and the math behind it but not quite to the level where I can just learn from a textbook.

    Thank you.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2011 #2

    bcrowell

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    If you want something that has math but isn't a textbook, I think you're probably out of luck.

    What level of math and physics preparation have you had? Have you had calculus? Have you had a freshman physics sequence?
     
  4. Jul 6, 2011 #3

    Bill_K

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    For special relativity I'd suggest "Spacetime Physics" by Taylor and Wheeler. It's organized like a textbook but has an easy informal style, and fully covers all the standard paradoxes.
     
  5. Jul 6, 2011 #4

    George Jones

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    I used the above book to teach myself special relativity. If you want a somewhat easier special relativity book, I recommend the beautiful A Traveler's Guide to Spacetime: An Introduction to Special Theory of Relativity. Easier again is Einstein's Special Relativity: Discover for Yourself by Ernie McFarland.
     
  6. Jul 6, 2011 #5
    After Spacetime Physics you could try the same authors' https://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Bl...sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309965467&sr=1-1".

    An introduction with a light amount of math is https://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Grou...sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309965757&sr=1-8" by Schutz.

    At a more popular level, but actually somewhat challenging conceptually, John Wheeler's
    https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Spac...sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309966050&sr=1-2" introduces Cartan's approach to GR.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  7. Jul 6, 2011 #6
    I have done Math up to and through Calculus but have taken no more than high-school level physics, though I have independently taught myself much more than I learned in school.


    For all others, thanks for your suggestions. I am definitely going to be pursuing them.
     
  8. Jul 6, 2011 #7
    Here's where I recommend you start:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=3380917&postcount=12

    It gives a valuable perspective for special relativity that I don't think any other sources provide. It doesn't get far at all into general relativity, but what it DOES say about GR is also valuable.

    After you've really absorbed everything in the above book, then I think Taylor & Wheeler is the next place where you should spend a lot of time (for special relativity). For GR, the book I learned the most from is Dirac's tiny little book ... it took me almost a year to cover (in great depth) its 69 pages. (Not everyone likes Dirac's writing style, but I think he's hands-down the best technical writer who ever lived, bar none).

    Mike Fontenot
     
  9. Jul 6, 2011 #8

    bcrowell

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    At that level, Spacetime Physics and Exploring Black Holes are both good choices. Spacetime Physics may assume more physics than you know; if you find it heavy going, you might want to start with Takeuchi, An Illustrated Guide to Relativity, and/or Mermin, It's About Time: Understanding Einstein's Relativity.
     
  10. Jul 9, 2011 #9
    There is one book that I am sure will fill your needs: The Mathematics of Relativity for the Rest of Us - Louis Jagerman, MD...yes MD, not PhD. Very clear, only requires, maybe some calculus. Its basically a layman's book for people that know Calc. So its not basic and it isnt a formal textbook.
     
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