A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity

July 1, 2014|
A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity by Peter Collier
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Making the mysterious comprehensible – an accessible and enjoyable guide to the mathematics of relativity
This book is aimed at the general reader who wishes to understand the essential mathematics of Einstein's fascinating theories of special and general relativity. One of the cornerstones of modern physics, relativity is based on the concept of four-dimensional spacetime – curved in the vicinity of mass-energy, flat in its absence. Special relativity helps explain a huge range of non-gravitational physical phenomena and has some strangely counter-intuitive consequences. These include time dilation, length contraction, the relativity of simultaneity, mass-energy equivalence and an absolute speed limit. General relativity, the leading theory of gravity, is at the heart of our understanding of cosmology and black holes.

To paraphrase Euclid, there is no royal road to relativity – you have to do the mathematics. This introductory, self-study guide is for the lay reader who is motivated to tackle that challenge. The book is written using straightforward and accessible language, with clear derivations and explanations as well as numerous fully solved problems. For those with minimal mathematical background, the first chapter provides a crash course in foundation mathematics. The reader is then taken gently by the hand and guided through a wide range of fundamental topics, including Newtonian mechanics; the Lorentz transformations; tensor calculus; the Einstein field equations; the Schwarzschild solution (which gives a good approximation of the spacetime of our Solar System); simple black holes and relativistic cosmology. Following the historic 2015 LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) detection, there is now an additional chapter on gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that potentially provide a revolutionary new way to study the universe.

Understand even the basics of Einstein's amazing theory and the world will never seem the same again.

1 Foundation mathematics
2 Newtonian mechanics
3 Special relativity
4 Introducing the manifold
5 Scalars, vectors, one-forms and tensors
6 More on curvature
7 General relativity
8 The Newtonian limit
9 The Schwarzschild metric
10 Schwarzschild black holes
11 Cosmology
12 Gravitational waves
Appendix: The Riemann curvature tensor

November 2016 – this revised and corrected second edition now includes a new chapter on gravitational waves and a new appendix showing the derivation of the Riemann curvature tensor and some of its most important symmetries.

Preface; Introduction; 1-Foundation mathematics; 2-Newtonian mechanics; 3-Special relativity; 4-Introducing the manifold; 5-Scalars, vectors, one-forms and tensors; 6-More on curvature; 7-General relativity; 8-The Newtonian limit; 9-The Schwarzschild metric; 10-Schwarzschild black holes; 11-Cosmology; 12-Gravitational waves; Appendix: ...
Title:A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity
Product dimensions:340 pages, 9.25 X 7.5 X 0.71 in
Shipping dimensions:340 pages, 9.25 X 7.5 X 0.71 in
Published:July 1, 2014
Publisher:Incomprehensible Books
Appropriate for ages:All ages
ISBN - 13:9780957389458

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