Wheeler, Thorne and Misner Gravitation Book Revised in 2017

In summary: No, Feynman Lectures is a great example for how to format a book for someone who is not familiar with the subject matter.In summary, the classic book on General Relativity by Wheeler, Thorne and Misner is now out. It brings back fond memories of being tortured by Tensors, Levi-Cevitas, Christoffel symbols and other arcane concepts. The Princeton site does not make any mentions of updates to MTW except for the new preface and foreward. I think MTW is one of the best physics books ever written. Better is a subjective category, but given that you don't like his QFT, there are good chances that you will like his gravity book.
  • #1
14,805
9,163
The classic book on General Relativity by Wheeler, Thorne and Misner is now out:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691177791/?tag=pfamazon01-20

I got to use preprints of the book while doing an independent study of General Relativity in 1973. It brings back fond memories of being tortured by Tensors, Levi-Cevitas, Christoffel symbols and other arcane concepts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitation_(book)

Make sure to read the Preface of the book before buying it. They have updated many sections (first 22 chapters are largely as is). However, there are some advanced topics that have not been updated. I couldn't find a list of them to present here. The Princeton site doesn't show the Preface information.

https://press.princeton.edu/titles/11169.html

Also Amazon shows many reviews and you might find something of interest there.
 
  • Like
Likes vanhees71, Wrichik Basu and Greg Bernhardt
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
I don't believe the text has changed at all, just the new preface with a discussion of what would need supplementing with updated references.
 
  • #3
Daverz said:
I don't believe the text has changed at all, just the new preface with a discussion of what would need supplementing with updated references.

From what I read in the preface, many chapters were updated but that some topics within a given chapter were not. I think Thorne and Misner updated what they could and either the science is too new or they just didn't have the resources to complete the update. Oh well, maybe they'll remedy that in a future version if there's enough sales of the book.

So now we have two big tomes on Gravity:
- Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler (1279 pgs)
- Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell by Zee (888 pgs)
 
  • #4
jedishrfu said:
So now we have two big tomes on Gravity:
- Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler (1279 pgs)
- Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell by Zee (888 pgs)
There is also
- Lecture Notes on General Relativity by Blau (955 pgs in the last version, frequently updated, free download easily found by google)
 
  • Like
Likes dextercioby and vanhees71
  • #6
By the way, the book "Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell" by Zee is anything but in-a-nutshell. Neither by size nor by style of writing. While his book "QFT in a Nutshell" has many in-a-nutshell properties in the style of writing (which makes people either love or hate it), his gravity book does not use an in-a-nutshell style of writing at all. My explanation is that it is because Zee is a true expert in QFT which allows him to see intuitive shortcuts in otherwise lengthy pedestrian QFT derivations, while he is not such an expert in GR so his GR derivations are more pedestrian.
 
  • #7
I hope the gravity book is much better than the QFT book?
 
  • #8
vanhees71 said:
I hope the gravity book is much better than the QFT book?
"Better" is a subjective category, but given that you don't like his QFT, there are good chances that you will like his gravity book.
 
  • #9
I did not like Zee's QFT book at all: too many instances of "huh, how does that follow?"

I really like his gravity book, but that may be because I'm more familiar with the material.

The Princeton site does not make any mentions of updates to MTW except for the new preface and foreward. That said, it's still a wonderful book with much unique insight, and $60 for a 1366 page hardcover is quite a bargain.

https://press.princeton.edu/titles/11169.html
 
Last edited:
  • #10
Yes, I think MTW is one of the best physics books ever written. I like this informal but still rigorous enough style towards mathematics. That's (American-style) pedagogy at its best! Of course, I only know the old version which makes you feel gravitation by its sheer weight already. That's the only thing, I don't like. It's hard to carry the book around. On the other hand it's comprehensive. I also think the core of GR presented is not outdated. Of course, a lot about astro and cosmo applications are and many haven't existed at the time the book was written, but there are plenty of good books you can read with the background knowledge about GR from MTW.
 
  • Like
Likes jedishrfu
  • #11
vanhees71 said:
I like this informal but still rigorous enough style towards mathematics. That's (American-style) pedagogy at its best!
If that informal-but-rigorous style is called "American", how would you call a more formal style? European?
 
  • #12
Demystifier said:
If that informal-but-rigorous style is called "American", how would you call a more formal style? European?

No, French and their amazing books on mathematics under the name "Bourbaki"
 
  • Like
Likes Demystifier
  • #13
Well, yes, but Bourbaki is an example for, how you can write a great book without any value for the beginner. It's so rigorous that you never develop a feeling for math, which is needed to be creative to invent new interesting things. It's of course the standard of how a final result should be formulated at the end, and both MTW and as well as the Feynman Lectures are outstanding examples for such books.

An example for the danger you can get in as a textbook author is if you forget the one or the other part. Berkeley Physics Course vol. II (Purcell's electrodynamics) is an example for providing a lot of apparent intuition but forgetting to give a clear formal treatment and avoiding the appropriate math (tensor calculus in Minkowski space) as if this would hinder the student to learn the physics. To the contrary, it's making things much easier to understand. So the effort learning 4D Minkowski-space vector and tensor calculus is well spent in providing a better understanding of relativity.
 
Last edited:
  • #14
Demystifier said:
If that informal-but-rigorous style is called "American", how would you call a more formal style? European?
Yes, I think so. I guess, a book in this style or in the style of the Feynman Lectures would not have been written by a European physicist in this time. I think, a lot of progress has been made in writing textbooks that provide not only the knowledge but the fun of and the love for physics. The old European style has sometimes the tendency to be a bit on the dry side, not discussing so much the intuitive arguments. The ideal books, particularly introductory ones, cover both aspects, the informal "fun part" as well as the formal "hard part".
 
  • Like
Likes Demystifier
  • #15
vanhees71 said:
Well, yes, but Bourbaki is an example for, how you can write a great book without any value for the beginner.
Which Bourbaki book is meant for beginners?
 
  • Like
Likes Demystifier
  • #16
jedishrfu said:
From what I read in the preface, many chapters were updated but that some topics within a given chapter were not. I think Thorne and Misner updated what they could and either the science is too new or they just didn't have the resources to complete the update. Oh well, maybe they'll remedy that in a future version if there's enough sales of the book.

So now we have two big tomes on Gravity:
- Gravitation by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler (1279 pgs)
- Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell by Zee (888 pgs)

UPDATE: I don't think they updated any chapters having reread the new preface. They instead identified the chapters that are out of date with respect to current research only for course instructors to fill in leaving the possibility of a book revision where these areas could be updated.
 

Related to Wheeler, Thorne and Misner Gravitation Book Revised in 2017

1. What is the main focus of the Wheeler, Thorne and Misner Gravitation Book Revised in 2017?

The main focus of this book is on the theory of gravitation and its implications for understanding the nature of space and time.

2. How is this edition different from the previous ones?

This revised edition includes updated information and new developments in the field of gravitation, as well as additional chapters on topics such as black holes, gravitational waves, and the expanding universe.

3. Is this book suitable for beginners in the field of gravitation?

No, this book is intended for advanced readers and assumes a prior knowledge of physics and mathematics. It is often used as a reference text for graduate students and researchers in the field.

4. Are there any notable contributions from the authors of this book to the field of gravitation?

Yes, all three authors (John Archibald Wheeler, Kip Thorne, and Charles Misner) are renowned physicists who have made significant contributions to the understanding of gravitation. Wheeler is known for coining the term "black hole," Thorne for his work on gravitational waves and black holes, and Misner for his contributions to the theory of general relativity.

5. How can this book be applied in practical situations?

This book is primarily a theoretical text and is not meant for practical applications. However, the concepts and theories discussed in the book have been applied in various fields, such as astrophysics, cosmology, and quantum gravity, to better understand the nature of the universe and its workings.

Similar threads

  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
6
Views
643
  • Poll
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
15
Views
23K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
11
Views
4K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
9
Views
3K
Replies
5
Views
3K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
1
Views
850
  • Other Physics Topics
Replies
5
Views
9K
Replies
7
Views
3K
Back
Top