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General Relativity Books

  1. Feb 7, 2009 #1
    I'm really interested in understanding general relativity and its consequencies right now and I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good general relativity book for me. I'm not looking for a professional physicists book on the topic, but a book that explains the principles very well, with diagrams and moderate mathematics.

    So if anyone knows of any good ones please tell me its name.

    Thx.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2009 #2

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    Misner Thorne and Wheeler- Gravitation.

    You should get a morgage to buy this book. (-:
     
  4. Feb 7, 2009 #3

    cristo

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    Er.. I doubt MTW is suitable. I would not advise MTW as a first text in GR, even if the reader had a solid background. See here for a list of GR textbooks, on various levels. http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Administrivia/rel_booklist.html
     
  5. Feb 7, 2009 #4
    I would recommend as a first text Sean Carroll's book. There is a free pdf version on his website or you could buy the textbook (I think it is a great intro GR book). The pdf version is not the version that is for sale of course. He expanded his free pdf notes into his textbook.

    After you have become comfortable with Carroll, then you should tackle Wald and Hawking, Ellis, I consider these texts on similarly levels in terms of mathematical rigor. Both are considered grad GR books. Hawking Ellis is the source for mathematical black holes. Wald is quite good as well, but it leaves some proofs to Hawking Ellis or references some of Penrose's original proofs.
     
  6. Feb 7, 2009 #5

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    Eventually if he trully wants to understand gravitation he ought to learn from this book, sooner or later, expert or not.
     
  7. Feb 7, 2009 #6

    cristo

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    Let me get this right, as a second textbook on GR, to a student who is asking for a text "that explains the principles very well, with diagrams and moderate mathematics," you are recommending Hawking & Ellis? That's just ridiculous!!

    To the OP: since some other members appear to be wanting to throw you into the deep end of a swimming pool with lead weights tied to your feet, I would recommend you take a look at the link I give above, especially this section. d'Inverno's book is a good intro to GR. However, do you have prerequisite knowledge of special relativity? If not, you should definitely learn that first!
     
  8. Feb 7, 2009 #7

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    Cristo, this isn't what I meant to do.
    There's a book I read in my infancy by Leopold Infeld and Albert Einstein which is semi popular, I am not sure what's the name of the book in english cause I read it in hebrew and the name perhaps differ from the english version.
    perhaps it's a good start to read popular books straight from the horse's mouth.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2009 #8

    robphy

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Feb 7, 2009 #9
    Thx for all the replies everyone, I'll begin looking into those books soon.:smile:
     
  11. Feb 7, 2009 #10
    As far as understanding the implications of GR and getting some intuition for what's going on, I don't think there's a better book than Exploring Black Holes by Taylor & Wheeler. It's written using high school mathematics for the most part (basic algebra and a tiny but of calculus) and provides excellent explanations of a lot of the cool things in GR (Mercury's precession, GPS satellite time correction, what it will look like if you fall into a black hole, Einstein Rings, etc.)
     
  12. Feb 8, 2009 #11
    For a book with really good figures that is very well written and very extensive in terms of GR topics but with almost no math (2/3 qualifications) try Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne
     
  13. Feb 10, 2009 #12
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  14. Feb 12, 2009 #13

    robphy

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    www.eftaylor.com/download.html#special_relativity has links to "Chapter One" (the text, the exercises, and the solutions) of the classic Spacetime Physics.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  15. Feb 17, 2009 #14
    Well, I've looked up most of the books you guys have recomended and, no offense, but it wasn't what I was really looking for. Most of the books had to be purchased, most for a price above $75. I am only in the ninth grade, too young to drive and to get a job. I should have mentioned that in the original post. Sadly, my parents wouldn't let me buy a book above $50.

    Those books seemed that they might be somewhat high level as well, like I said I'm only a ninth grader so my mathematical skills at the moment only extend to algebra one lol.

    What I'm really looking for is a book that can give me a good understanding of general relativity, a good enough one that I can feel confident in explaining its principles to a few of my friends who I enjoy lecturing on science with, and that I can could get a hold of at my local library.

    Thank you
     
  16. Feb 17, 2009 #15

    robphy

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    In retrospect, we could have been more helpful if you had better described your constraints.

    I would recommend
    http://books.google.com/books?id=rwPDssnbHPEC
    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41MQE3DJMKL._SL160_.jpg
    General Relativity from A to B
    By Robert Geroch
    It's under $20.... and it's deceptively deep in foundational content [deeper than most of the more technical treatments in standard textbooks]. (Admittedly, I'm biased... since I took a few courses with him.) In addition, it's one of the few books that _reason_ with spacetime diagrams.

    find it in a library: http://www.worldcat.org/wcpa/isbn/0226288641
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  17. Feb 17, 2009 #16
    Thx for the recomendation robphy, I'll definetly look into that book soon. Sorry that I didn't explain what I was looking for correctly. I had no idea that there were entire text books soley on general relativity, it must be a much bigger concept than what I had anticipated.
     
  18. Feb 18, 2009 #17

    dx

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    I too recommend "General Relativity From A to B " by Geroch. Another very good book at a level that may be accessible to you is Einstein's own popular book "Relativity: The Special and General Theories".
     
  19. Apr 19, 2009 #18

    Astronuc

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  20. Apr 20, 2009 #19
    Young people these days. When I was your age I used to take the bus to the UCSD library, which involved 2 transfers, just so I could read the GR books there.

    For something to own, get your parents to order you a used copy of https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0716750163".

    Also, you may be able to handle the math in It's About Time: Understanding Einstein's Relativity by N. David Mermin, which is about Special Relativity.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  21. Nov 2, 2011 #20
    I wrote a general relativity book myself, it can be downloaded for free here: http://valek.webs.com/

    Take a look people, tell me if it is any good. If something is blurry or wrong, I will try to correct it, so come back often, to check for updates.
     
  22. Mar 19, 2012 #21

    Hi. I like the cover. I think the book could be improved by providing more discussion of the topics and the motivations behind general relativity, which I am interested in. I struggled with even the basics math so I could not appreciate the entire book. Perhaps you could include, at the end of the chapter on the basics, a diagnostic test to ensure sufficient understanding.
    Also please expand on the sections which compare results to experimental results.

    Now, it just reads as derivation after derivation-there is no central theme let alone much text at all. I suspect there is more to general relativity than that and I question its value as lecture material in its current state.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  23. Mar 22, 2012 #22
    I would like to point out that the book does a good job of anticipating questions about relativistic quantum physics (Specifically sections 6.11,6.12,6.13,6.14,6.15). I applaud the, albeit brief, inclusion of the Dirac equation and Klein Gordan equation. In the same vein, section 6.9 and 6.10 present anticipate relativistic e&m.
     
  24. Apr 8, 2012 #23
    Thanks for the interest. This book was originally written in Hungarian, because some of the topics were not discussed in our literature before. Since there are a few great GR textbooks for Hungarian universities already, I was focusing on the math, and neglected long explanations in the text. Also, we tend to separate long discussions with historical accounts and mathematical problem solving into different books. That is the reason for the style, and that the focus is mainly on equations, while textbook discussions are neglected.

    I agree, with more basics and more elaboration on experimental results, it could become a complete textbook on its own. Right now its more of a student aide and a reference book for researchers. I never intended it to be a complete lecture material on its own anyway. Russian textbooks are even more dense, you don't even need to know Russian to read them, there is barely anything in them besides equations ;)

    I am still not sure what I want to do about the sections on relativistic wave equations. Right now I am expanding them, maybe I should put them in an entire separate chapter. I also plan an appendix that would discuss topics that are not physically relevant, but are closely related to the material that is already present, for example electrically charged black-hole solutions.
     
  25. Apr 8, 2012 #24

    xristy

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    I can also heartily recommend The Einstein Theory of Relativity: A Trip to the Fourth Dimension. It is under $11 and is a wonderful introduction to the ideas and the math of both special and general relativity. I read the book years ago when I was just a little younger than you are. The book was long out of print and is now thankfully back in print.
     
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