Home  Articles  Guide to Observing  Tour of the Constellations  Book Reviews 
Gravitation
by Charles W. Misner,Kip S. Throne and John Archibald Wheeler 1279 pages Level: graduate text book The "Bible" of relativity theory 

"Gravitation" is such a prominent book on relativity that the initials of its authors
MTW can be used by other books on relativity without explanation. With almost 1300
profusely illustrated pages, "Gravitation" explains every major and many minor
aspects of the General Theory of Relativity. "Gravitation" is not an elementary
text and utilizes some extremely sophisticated mathematical tools.
But "Gravitation" has maintained its popularity over the years (it was first published in 1972) not only because of its completeness and the deserved high reputation of Misner, Thorne and Wheeler, but also because every page is written with the struggling student in mind. The writing is clear and vibrant. I was originally drawn to "Gravitation" by the illustrations. There is one illustration in the first chapter showing how both a ball and a bullet have a similar curvature while travelling through spacetime which is almost worth the price of the entire book. The authors also realized that over 1200 pages of text and illustrations might intimidate even the most earnest student of Geometry and divided the book into "tracks". Track 1 covers all the basic subjects of relativity: special relativity, a brief look at Maxwell's equations, tensor algebra, geodesics, mass energy, weak gravitational fields, a brief look at black holes, gravitational waves and finally testing the theory of General relativity. The reader can make a "detour" into Track 2 material at any time, because any prerequisites are listed. While "Gravitation" is clearly an advanced text, it has much to offer any serious student of relativity. 

Review by Ed Ehrlich  
Table Of Contents  
Part I Space Time Physics *1. Geometrodynamics in Brief Part II Physics In Flat Spacetime *2. Foundations of Special Relativity *3. The Electromagnetic Field 4. Electromagnetism and Differential Forms 5. StressEnergy Tensor and Conservation Laws 6. Accelerated Observers 7. Incompatibility of Gravity and Special Relativity Part III The Mathematics Of Curved Spacetime *8. Differential Geometry: An Overview 9. Differential Topology 10. Affine Geometry: Geodesics, Parallel Transport and Covariant Derivative 11. Geodesic Deviation and Spacetime Curvature 12. Newtonian Gravity in the Language of Curved Spacetime 13. Riemanian Geometry: Metric as Foundation of All 14. Calculation of Curvature 15. Bianchi Identities and the Boundary of a Boundary Part IV Einstein's Geometric Theory Of Gravity *16. Equivalence Principle and Measurement of the "Gravitational Field" *17. How MassEnergy Generates Curvature *18. Weak Gravitational Fields *19. Mass and Angular Momentum of a Gravitating System 20. Conservation Laws for 4Momentum and Angular Momentum 21. Variational Principle and InitialValue Data 22. Thermodynamic, Hydronamics, Electrodynamics, Geometric Options, and Kinetic Theory Part V Relativistic Stars *23. Spherical Stars *24. Pulsars 25. The "Pit in the Potential" as the Central New Feature of Motion in Schwarschild Geometry 26. Stellar Pulsations Part VI The Universe 27. Idealized Cosmologies *28. Evolution of the Universe into Its Present State 29. Present State and Future Evolution of the Universe 30. Anisotropic and Inhomogenous Cosmologies Part VII Gravitational Collapse And Black Holes *31. Schwarzchild Geometry *32. Gravitational Collapse 33. Black Holes 34. Global Techniques, Horizons, and singularity Theorems Part VIII Gravitational Waves *35. Propagation of Gravitational Waves *36. Generation of Gravitational Waves 37. Detection of Gravitational Waves Part IX Experimental Tests of General Relativity 38. Testing the Foundations of Relativity 39. Other Theories of Gravity and the PostNewtonian Approximation *40. SolarSystem Experiments Part X 41. Spinors 42. Regge Calculus 43. Superspace: Arena for the Dynamics of Geometry 44. Beyond the End of Time Bibliography and Index of Names Subject Index * Chapter with large amounts of Track 1 material 