Relativity: The Special and the General Theory

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General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics. General relativity generalises special relativity and Newton's law of universal gravitation, providing a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time, or spacetime. In particular, the curvature of spacetime is directly related to the four-momentum (mass-energy and linear momentum) of whatever matter and radiation are present. The relation is specified by the Einstein field equations, a system of partial differential equations. Einstein's theory has important astrophysical implications. For example, it implies the existence of black holes-regions of space in which space and time are distorted in such a way that nothing, not even light, can escape-as an end-state for massive stars. There is evidence that such stellar black holes as well as more massive varieties of black hole are responsible for the intense radiation emitted by certain types of astronomical objects such as active galactic nuclei or microquasars.

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How better to learn the Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity than directly from their creator, Albert Einstein himself? In Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, Einstein describes the theories that made him famous, illuminating his case with numerous examples and a smattering of math (nothing more complex than high-school algebra). Einstein's book is not casual reading, but for those who appreciate his work without diving into the arcana of theoretical physics, Relativity will prove a stimulating read.

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"The additions to the original text give considerable insight and are a valuable addition, particularly for anyone approaching the subject for the first time."
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"It’s as though you are sitting in his classroom, watching [Einstein] alternate between gesticulating and chalking equations onto the blackboard."
The Washington Post Book World

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