on 23 July 2010
I enjoyed the book very much. Not having been educated in the U.K. I can only accept that it is the right level for advanced undergraduates (it would fit in that category in the U.S.A.). Ray D'Inverno's "Introducing Einstein's relativity" claims his book is suitable for undergraduates but my feeling it is more a first year graduate level. I give that for comparison puposes.
Lambourne's book is very clearly written with numerous worked examples and clear diagrams. There are few printing spelling errors and, I believe, two mistakes. Equation (2.30), the 3/4 should be 3/8. This is not important as the equation is rounded to first order and the term is dropped. A more important mistake is equation (2.102). The J nu divided by epsilon zero (permitivity of free space) should, to achieve Maxwell's equation, read J nu multiplied by mu zero (the pemeability of free space).
Notwitstanding the above perceived errors I was not put off by the overall content of the book and intend buying related books in the Open University series on Stellar Evolution, Astrophysics and Cosmology (when it is eventually published).
I read the books for pleasure but I believe I would find it useful if I was studying for an examination.
on 19 March 2012
I bought this book for self study and have found it to be excellent and very enjoyable. It's not a light hearted skip through the main concepts in each of the topics covered and some specific focussed effort will be required to work through the subject matter - but that's what you would expect right? The subject matter here is complex and can only be simplified so far before it becomes trivialised and nothing useful is gained. This book doesn't do that. It introduces the concepts that are central to the subject matter (e.g. four vectors, tensors, differential geometry etc) in gentle steps without attempting to be a mathematically rigorous treatment of any of them. In my case I got enough of an understanding of the ideas behind these concepts from this book to read around each of them in separate books which are more dedicated to the specific topics and then move onto more rigorous treatments of the topics of this book - mainly GR and Cosmology for me.
I think anyone interested in the subject matter could use this book to gain a "first-course" type understanding of the main topics covered then move onto more rigorous treatments if desired. If you have a background in the physical sciences you should be able to start straight away and work through this book with some effort. If you don't have a background in the the physical sciences I think you could still work through the book though you will probably have to do some peripheral reading to catch up with some of the background ideas/mathematical tools. That's not a weakness of this book, just a consequence of the subject matter - some of the topics covered are quite abstract and require some abstract tools to handle them.
The book contains worked examples which is a great asset and is beautifully produced. Although it's a paperback I've had no problems with the spine splitting that can sometimes happen with paperback bindings.
All in all a fantastic book, well made, beautifully presented and highly recommended.
on 8 October 2010
I learnt the rudiments of GR from the likes of Schutz' First course in GR, Foster and Nightingale's Short Course in GR supplemented by various differential geometry texts and a number of others, so I approached this book having worked thoroughly through the basics of GR before. The format of the book is very nice,with excellent discussion of each new concept as it is introduced. Someone new to the subject matter, studying on their own, would find it accessible if they have the usual background: a bit of Linear Algebra; multi-variable calculus; vector calculus; differential equations etc. The exercises are fun and do-able and are fully worked in the back.. this is a bit like doing The Times crossword from a crossword book rather than the paper.. you are too easily tempted to peek in the back to ensure you are on the right track when it might be better (and more rewarding) to sweat a bit yourslf first .. I am biased though because textbooks used to have one trivial worked example followed by real brain busters sans hints or worked answers. I have to say I haven't finished reading/working through the book yet as I have very limited time but reading it in the evening as a 'refresher' I am thoroughly enjoying it. Some particular highlights so far are the author's gentle yet illuminating treatment of SR including the Electromagnetic Field in tensor notation.. paving the way nicely for more general curved spaces and spacetime in later chapters. The discussion of the Energy-Momentum tensor is excellent... 6 pages are given over to picking this apart so the reader gets a real feel for it.. introductory discussions of this object are usually terse and leave the reader scratching their head I think.Looking ahead to the last few chapters the material presented is basic yet well thought out in its presentation and I look forward to reading them.For the mathematically literate reader wanting an introduction or review of the rudiments of GR I thoroughly recommend 'Relativity Gravitation and Cosmology.'