Ann. Phys. (Leipzig) 18, No. 10 – 11, 809 (2009) / DOI 10.1002/andp.200910372 Book Review “Introduction to General Relativity”, by Lewis Ryder, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-521-84563-2, XV+441 pages, GBP 45.00 / USD 75.00 (hardcover) Milutin Blagojević∗ Institute of Physics, P. O. Box 68, 11080 Belgrade, Serbia Published online: 19 October 2009 Key words Physical basis of General Relativity, differential geometry, classical tests, black holes, gravitational radiation, cosmology. PACS 01.30.Vv While the electromagnetic, weak and also, to some extent, the strong interactions of elementary particles can be described by a unified quantum field theory, the related status of the gravitational interaction is much less clear. Attempts to clarify the position of gravity in this context resulted in a more intensive study of its dynamical structure in the last five decades; as a consequence, a course on General Relativity is nowadays the usual option to final year undergraduates. The aim of Lewis Ryder’s book is to provide a pedagogical introduction to General Relativity for advanced undergraduate or beginning graduate students. The book contains over 100 figures that illustrate the exposition, a number of exercises in which the ideas discussed in the text are deepened and extended, and extensive suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter. The first part of the book (Chaps. 1–6) is dedicated to the foundation of general relativity. After a short but instructive exposition of the crucial ideas of Einstein’s approach to gravity, the equivalence principle and the principle of general covariance, there is an introduction to differential geometry, including also its modern, coordinate-free formulation, whereupon one comes to Einstein’s field equations, Schwarzschild solution and the related observational tests, and then to the Lense-Thirring effect, recently confirmed by observations. The second part (Chaps. 7–10), apart from some technical details in Chap. 8, covers the core topics of general relativity: Schwarzschild and Kerr black holes, gravitational radiation and cosmology. In the last chapter, the author offers an outline of the gauge approach to gravity, which should be taken as a motivation for further study of the subject. As one can see, the choice of topics is pretty standard. Today, when we have a number of good textbooks on General Relativity, it is quite natural for a potential reader to ask whether we really need a new book on the subject. To answer this dilemma, I wish to stress that the real value of this book is not in the choice of topics, but in an excellent style of exposition. Lewis Ryder is an experienced writer who cares about his readers. Typically, each topic in the book is highlighted from different perspectives: the author starts from an intuitive introduction, then he continues with a careful exposition of the main subject, including all the necessary calculational details and observational aspects, and ends up with a convincing discussion of possible physical consequences. An illuminating example for author’s style is the exposition of black holes: the intuitive aspects are mentioned already in discussing Schwarzschild solution (frozen stars), then we have the process of formation of black holes (white dwarfs and neutron stars), the explanation of their physical and geometric aspects, generalization to the rotating black holes, and so on. Moreover, the reader can find here a number of concepts that appear in the current literature on black holes (Penrose diagrams, surface gravity, the black hole thermodynamics, trapped surfaces, naked singularities). Lewis Ryder’s research interests in the last fifteen years have been focused on the subjects involving both particle physics and gravity. With such a background, he naturally looks at General Relativity from a somewhat wider perspective, which is particularly visible in his exposition of cosmology, but not only there. This modern and inspiring textbook is highly recommended not only for a course on General Relativity, but also to those who wish to learn this exciting subject by a self-study. ∗ E-mail: mb@phy.bg.ac.rs © 2009 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

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