27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This review is from: Gravitation (Physics Series) (Paperback)
The world would be less beautiful if this book didn't exist. What a remarkable feat! The sequence that leads from the very basic concept of spacetime to the computation of the components of Riemann tensor by using forms and the Cartan equations is unparalleled. A lot of mathematical formulas follow from simple reasoning and ... drawings! The introduction of Schild's ladder to motivate the axioms for a (torsionless) connection is very clever. The introduction of curvature by means of geodesic deviation is very intuitive. The derivation of the expression for the geodesic deviation (and, consequently, of the expression for the Riemann tensor) is, again, completely intuitive. The chapter on spinors is very beautiful and useful. Still, I would never recommend this book for a beginner. For it is absolutely non-linear. I have been told that this corresponds to the ideas of Wheeler's concerning learning. Sometimes an argument at chapter 4 (say) depends on something that is intr! oduced in chapter 8. Also, the three tracks (first, second and boxes)interfere all the time, requiring much discipline from the reader. If, however, you already learned the basics (for instance, in Landau, Lifshitz), so that you know what you are looking for, "Gravitation" is unbeatable, of a class apart. I've seen mathematicians adopting the language introduced by them to explain tensors: a slot for each argument of the multilinear machine! Last, not the least, the Index and the References are of the highest quality. This shows respect for the readers. Drs. Misner, Thorne and Wheeler are to be congratulated.