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Good books about relativity

  1. Jul 15, 2012 #1
    Hi everyone,

    Can anyone recommend some good books about relativity. I read Relativity Demystified by David McMahon and Paul M. Alsing which excellent as it explained the mathematics with simple examples. So I am after something similar.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2012 #2


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    Orzel, How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog

    Steane, The Wonderful World of Relativity

    French, Special Relativity

    Schutz, Gravity from the Ground Up

    Orzel's and Steane's books seem to be at the same level as "Relativity Demystified". French's book is an old undergraduate textbook that is simple and clear. Schutz's book is about general relativity, and is nominally on the same level as Orzel's and Steane's books, but because it is longer, one would probably need to be much more patient to finish it.

    A free online book with a nice section about special relativity is Crowell's Simple Nature.

    Takeuchi also has a nice free online Special Relativity.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  4. Jul 15, 2012 #3
    The best books about general relativity in my advice are:
    R.Wald, General Relativity
    Misner, Thorne, Wheeler, GRAVITATION
    The first one is a classic, the second is called "phone book" because of its volume, but is very complete. The only flaw is that the books are a bit dated, so they aren't up to date about cosmology.
  5. Jul 16, 2012 #4


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    I like Weinberg's books. For GR he has written one with the title "Gravitation and Cosmology" in the 1970ies. Concerning the cosmology part it's outdated, but GR (and also SR!) is nicely explained in great detail, including the necessary mathematics. For cosmology he has written a new book "Cosmology" in 2008 which is also very clearly written.
  6. Jul 16, 2012 #5


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    It might be helpful if you could explain more about what you want in a second book that you didn't get in that book.

    Also, are you interested in special relativity only, or general relativity as well?

    In addition to those that people have already mentioned, some other nonmathematical books worth considering are:

    Gardner, Relativity Simply Explained
    Mermin, It's About Time
    Geroch, Relativity from A to B
    Will, Was Einstein Right?
  7. Jul 16, 2012 #6


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    I'll throw in one of my favorites for an introductory book: A Journey into Gravity and Spacetime by John Archibald Wheeler. This book gives a unique presentation with wonderful insight by a great mind. (Plus, very cheap used copies can be found online!)
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2012
  8. Jul 19, 2012 #7


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  9. Jul 19, 2012 #8


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    That's a nice reference if you already know the subject, but for learning the subject I've never understood why people like it.

    For special relativity I would recommend Moore's "Traveler's guide through spacetime", for GR I would recommend Carroll or d'Inverno. :)
  10. Jul 19, 2012 #9


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    I think that should be "to," not "through." AFAICT it's out of print, but it seems that you can pick up used copies on bookfinder.com fairly cheaply. What do you like about it? Any reason to prefer it over Taylor and Wheeler's Spacetime Physics?
  11. Jul 20, 2012 #10
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  12. Jul 20, 2012 #11
    About Wald's book:
    I like Wald's book, but I started studying GR with the help of professor who was very clear in his explanation. He started the course with some differential geometry and than went on. So with the help of my notes, and the Lecture notes on GR by Carrol, that I forgot to mention before, I was able to appreciate Wald. :)
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