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Relativity Wheeler, Thorne and Misner Gravitation Book Revised in 2017

  1. Nov 15, 2017 #1

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    The classic book on General Relativity by Wheeler, Thorne and Misner is now out:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691177791/ref=ox_sc_act_title_4?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

    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.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 15, 2017 #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.
     
  4. Nov 16, 2017 #3

    jedishrfu

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    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)
     
  5. Nov 16, 2017 #4

    Demystifier

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    There is also
    - Lecture Notes on General Relativity by Blau (955 pgs in the last version, frequently updated, free download easily found by google)
     
  6. Nov 16, 2017 #5

    vanhees71

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  7. Nov 16, 2017 #6

    Demystifier

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    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.
     
  8. Nov 16, 2017 #7

    vanhees71

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    I hope the gravity book is much better than the QFT book?
     
  9. Nov 16, 2017 #8

    Demystifier

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    "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.
     
  10. Nov 16, 2017 #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: Nov 16, 2017
  11. Nov 17, 2017 #10

    vanhees71

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    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.
     
  12. Nov 17, 2017 #11

    Demystifier

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    If that informal-but-rigorous style is called "American", how would you call a more formal style? European?
     
  13. Nov 17, 2017 #12

    dextercioby

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    No, French and their amazing books on mathematics under the name "Bourbaki"
     
  14. Nov 18, 2017 #13

    vanhees71

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    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: Nov 18, 2017
  15. Nov 18, 2017 #14

    vanhees71

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    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".
     
  16. Nov 18, 2017 #15

    martinbn

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    Which Bourbaki book is meant for beginners?
     
  17. Nov 19, 2017 #16

    jedishrfu

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    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.
     
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