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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need in one book
I am slowly catching up on relativity. But my maths was a little bit rusty. I know the basic concepts, but had not used them for a long time. This book is well structured and has enabled me to undertake rapid revision of my basic understanding. Already I am half way through the book (some 170 pages), thoroughly having understood all the concepts and data structures...
Published 13 months ago by Eric

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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Still pretty incomprehensible, I'm afraid
I picked up this book because I've always wanted to understand the mathematical ideas and insights - the 'story' if you like - underpinning General Relativity.

I studied Mathematics at Oxford 30 years ago, and took courses in Special and General Relativity. The SR course was very clear and I quickly got the explanation for the formula of the Gamma factor,...
Published 15 months ago by Mr. Steve Lloyd


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All you need in one book, 14 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
I am slowly catching up on relativity. But my maths was a little bit rusty. I know the basic concepts, but had not used them for a long time. This book is well structured and has enabled me to undertake rapid revision of my basic understanding. Already I am half way through the book (some 170 pages), thoroughly having understood all the concepts and data structures and a total refresher of my relativity knowledge. This is after three days of reading in my spare time.

I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding general relativity from a physical significance point of view. I can't wait to finish it and then return to my higher level text books with a better understanding of where it is trying to go. He deals with Tensors at a level appropriate to understanding relativity. More advanced topics are left to the reader from other sources.

He cites websites where one can practise the concepts introduced and this certainly helps one to get a feel for the subject.

Great book, I wish I'd found it earlier.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the title,this is brilliant, 22 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
This book, despite it's off-putting title, is quite simply one of the best self-study textbooks that I have ever read.
It assumes zero mathematical background, and guides you with relative ease (pun partially intended) to the manipulation of Ricci tensors, Lorentz transformations and Minkowski spacetime etc.

As one reviewer put it, this is a "new gold standard". If you want to see how a clear exposition, without any patronising oversimplification, of a complex topic is done, read this book.

By the end you will have an enriched and enhanced world to inhabit, one in which you have acquainted yourself with one of the handful of remarkable ideas that can truly be classified as great.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make a difficult subject very accessible, 2 Jan. 2014
This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
I would highly recommend this to anyone who's interested in delving below the level of "popular science" level.
The mathematics is very clearly laid out. The language used throughout is almost 'conversational', which I felt made the text much easier to read.
You still need a reasonable background in maths and physics to fully understand the material covered. That said, the author makes the material very accessible and I think this should be required reading for anyone who sets themselves the challenge of understanding Einstein's general theory of relativity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value, 7 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
For any physics student/enthusiast this book represents excellent value. My father, who is a retired physics lecturer bought a copy and then ordered a second for my son, who is studying physics at university
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good introduction, 12 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
The author is to be thanked for his efforts. I graduated in physics many years ago and always wanted to get a reasonable understanding of general relativity which was not studied in my degree course. For my purposes this book was just what I needed and better places me to understand more advanced books.

The book has its weaknesses. For example Section 8.3 seems rather long winded and there appears to be a more straight forward approach in Hobson et al (see below). Section 9.4.8 on the gravitational deflection of light could be better written with less hand waving. I also spotted some typos and incorrect cross references but these are relatively few for a book of this type.

I have an alternative book entitled "General Relativity: An Introduction for Physicists" by Hobson, Efstathiou and Lasenby (Cambridge University Press). The two books complement each other well in that Collier is very good in the basics with Hobson et al excelling in the applications of general relativity and addresses most of the weaknesses in Chapters 8 and 9 of Collier. For those who have gone through this book and wish to read further about the applications and more complete derivations then I would recommend Hobson et al.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I ever read to understand Einstein's theories on relativity on a extended mathematical level., 19 May 2014
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
Peter Collier introduces the reader into the theories of special and general relativity in a way that makes me wonder why no one else tried to do it before him. This brilliant book full of wit and with an intresting portion of history is the best way to grasp the mathematics of the theory on a level that you never expected.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very user-friendly introduction to a complex topic, 19 May 2014
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Galada (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
What I liked was the commonsensical approach which is rarely found in scientific books with the right mix of formulae, worked examples and general comments. I nonetheless found the treatment of tensors very hard going : there must be some way of showing what's going on by diagrams. This book needs to be read alongside Schutz, A First Course in General Relativity that Peter Collier himself recommends highly. The latter though more advanced is sometimes more illuminating. But one fails to see why such an incredibly convoluted way of going about things should be necessary in the first place. The universe does not know Tensor Calculus and apparently does not need to. Newton's God did know Newton's Laws of Motion &c. but there is no equivalent Einsteinian God. Peter Collins does not address this issue but then neither does anyone else. Sebastian Hayes
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really amazing approaching to introducing a complicated subject with equations and ..., 27 July 2014
This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
Really amazing approaching to introducing a complicated subject with equations and not just the general idea. Sections on non-Euclidean geometry a reasonable explanation of the concepts. Better to include references to some of the proofs like the Bianchi identity. Good explanation of the energy momentum tensor and the sections on cosmology quite easy to follow.
Overall a great first step on the basic equations and differential geometry to stimulate further reading. Should include some cross references to some of the more difficult proofs.
Great to read alongside Daniel Flesich's book on vectors and tensors, especially on the connection coefficients and the curvature tensor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 2 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
This book is amazing, I recommend it for anyone with a interest in physics or Einsteins work, I suggest reading properly and taking every page as important as the next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 7 May 2014
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This review is from: A Most Incomprehensible Thing: Notes Towards a Very Gentle Introduction to the Mathematics of Relativity (Paperback)
Really accessable, clear and measured. Made me want to study general relativity again. Just a small quibble- some more references would have been nice.
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