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Book for Special Relativity that uses Tensors

  1. Aug 15, 2012 #1
    Hey all!

    I am a senior in college pretty much done with my mathematics major, but have had minimal physics. I'm currently self-studying special relativity with guidance from my advisor. Most of the books that I have come across use the algebraic/calculus approach such as Spacetime Physics by J. Wheeler and The Special Theory of Relativity by David Bohm. I also have Special Relativity: A Mathematical Exposition by Anadijiban Das but that one is far more mathematics than pedagogical physical explanations.

    I do have Wolfgang Rindler's Intro. to Special Relativity which begins using four-tensors midway in. However, I'm just wondering if there are any other books out there like Rindler's which teach you special relativity using four-tensors and that whole complicated set of machinery usually reserved for general relativity. My search on Google and on here has not yet yielded any desirable results.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 15, 2012 #2


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    Special relativity doesn't really require tensors to understand well, and the tensor calculus/algebra usually takes some time to develop so most authors do not bother to do this for special relativity.

    I think your best bet is to use a book in General relativity that starts off with Special relativity. For example, Schutz's book in General Relativity introduces tensors from the Special relativity point of view.
  4. Aug 15, 2012 #3
    Schultz's book is a great place to start. I used it for self teaching too.
  5. Aug 15, 2012 #4


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    http://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/nwoodh/sr/index.html [Broken] (SR)
    http://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/nwoodh/gr/index.html [Broken] (GR)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Aug 15, 2012 #5
    Schutz's book is amazing so far, but I have a question regarding the derivation of the Lorentz transformation. All of the books I've listed above and even Schutz's just plainly state the equations of the Lorentz transformation (t', x', y', z'), or they derive it in a purely algebraic manner.

    Why doesn't anyone actually derive it using trigonometry... using the infinitesimal rotation, hyperbolic sine and cosine functions, etc.? That way seems to me to be so much more intuitive than just symbolic manipulation and stating that the result is the Lorentz transformation. Same with the "Lorentz boost."
  7. Aug 16, 2012 #6


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    If you want a nicer derivation of the Lorentz transformations, refer to Landau and Lifgarbagez's book on Classical Theory of Fields (very early on, they develop SR). They do the best job from all the books I have studied and recall.
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