Friday, March 18, 2005

Book Review: Introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology


Introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology
by DF Lawden So, I had gotten this book last summer when I was at the Los Alamos National Labs. Never got around reading it, especially because I considered it too basic. On the other hand, it did seem to have a lot of very good reference material and some unique references to Cosmology from the perspective of General Relativity. Either way, I just wrote up a review for Amazon and thought that I'll post it here:

This book is very good for those seeking an introduction to Tensor Calculus, Relativity and Cosmology. Nothing more than a basic and fundamental know-how of physics is required, atleast for the first few chapters. If you're comfortable with the simple basics of linear algebra, classical mechanics, electromagnetics and calculus, you should have no problem with this book. The book starts out with a basic review of classical physics and very quickly progresses to the Lorentz Transformation, and then to Cartesian Tensors and Special Relativity. Lawden handles the flow quite well, and covers the basic Special Relativity mechanics & electrodynamics as well as general Tensor Calculus & Riemann Spaces. Finally, he proceeds to discuss the General Theory of Relativity with a strong focus on Black Holes & Gravitational waves and analyzes elements of Cosmology in the light of the General Theory of Relativity. However, I would not recommend this book in and of itself for learning Tensor Calculus. Unfortunately, Lawden does not have any relevant references to Quantum Mechanics, either, which would have proven to be immensely useful to the novice reader. You'd also do well to brush up on your physics fundamentals before jumping head-on. This book primarily acts as a very basic introduction to those that are not familiar with some aspects of elementary modern physics such as Tensor Calculus and Relativity, and does an extremely good job of that. Personally, I'd highly recommend this book if you're looking to read up on Relativity & related areas.
Well, that's about it - more (extremely geeky) reviews to come later! Stay tuned, forks (sorry, couldn't resist).