General Theory of Relativityby P. A.M. Dirac, Paul A. Dirac
Einstein's general theory of relativity requires a curved space for the description of the physical world. If one wishes to go beyond superficial discussions of the physical relations involved, one needs to set up precise equations for handling curved space. The well-established mathematical technique that accomplishes this is clearly described in this classic book
Einstein's general theory of relativity requires a curved space for the description of the physical world. If one wishes to go beyond superficial discussions of the physical relations involved, one needs to set up precise equations for handling curved space. The well-established mathematical technique that accomplishes this is clearly described in this classic book by Nobel Laureate P.A.M. Dirac. Based on a series of lectures given by Dirac at Florida State University, and intended for the advanced undergraduate, General Theory of Relativity comprises thirty-five compact chapters that take the reader point-by-point through the necessary steps for understanding general relativity.
"Dirac was a man of few words, and this little book-with 35 sections spanning 69 pages-exhibits the concise, direct style that was his trademark. Seasoned physicists will appreciate the book as an elegant, well-organized introduction to the basic mathematics and physics of curved space."R. Corby Hovis, Physics Today
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When I was first studying General Relativity, a graduate student friend of mine remarked that this little book has about all the information that "Gravitation" has in just a fraction of the pages. He was only partly wrong, and this slim volume continues to be the best summary of this mathematically challenging field. Whenever I need a quick (and not so quick) reference for one of the basic results in General Relativity, this is the first place where I look. Either as a secondary reference or the first textbook on the field, this book continues to be a valuable resource.
Most reviews fail to mention-perhaps because it's so well known to the practitioners -that Dirac was one of the original contributors to general relativity! I'd very much like to point out that Dirac in 1950 published his Hamiltonian Constraint Theory for non-linear systems and showed in 1958,1959,1968 to his fellow workers in general relativity how the problem of quantization - deducing that gravitons have spin two and the physical(theoretical)reasons for the existence of gravitational radiation may be looked at from the point of view of Hamiltonian formalism. An approach which many including Abdus Salam and Bryce deWitt regarded as bringing to a kind of technical completion this rather intricate and vexing problem. After his work people can start making investigations more into the real physics of the problem. Although Dirac did not specifically address the hamiltonian approach he spent some pages on the oustanding problems of localisation of energy and the pseudo tesor form of 'energy momentum' problem in gr and a very fascinating treatment of gravitational radiation and graviton spin.
'As time goes by' people is realizing that the name to put next to Einstein´s is Dirac. So, grab every single line he though fit to print. Here he explains general relativity. Of course, Dirac was quite clever, so that he needed just 68 pages to do it. If you are not as clever as Dirac (how would you know, on the other hand?) I think you will be able to profit from this (excellent) text provided: you really LEARNT your Calculus, and have some familiarity with conventional surface theory (as given in Courant, Thomas, Kaplan, Apostol, whatever) and (and mainly)are willing to work (pad and pencil, an occasional eraser, a Zen attitude ...). Then, you will learn what general relativity is all about. The more you learn, then with the help of fatter texts, the more you will find written in this slim book. By the way, Dirac´s explanation of parallel transport is my favorite one, even compared to mammoth texts, like Weinberg or Wald. I exclude Wheeler, because there they really did some effort to be original, and succeded.