ASTR 3740 Spring 2007 Homepage
ASTR 3740 Relativity & Cosmology Spring 2007: Texts
Since I will not be following any one book,
I will not be requiring that you buy any single book in particular.
As a practical matter, however,
you will probably find it helpful to get a copy of my notes
(see below).
One of the best relativity resources on the web is Chris Hillman's
Relativity on the World Wide Web,
which amongst other things contains a listing of
Undergraduate Level Lecture Notes and Articles.
Chris Hillman and others have compiled a comprehensive
Guide to books on Relativity.
One of the best cosmology resources on the web is
Ned Wright's
Cosmology tutorial,
which includes a
Cosmology bibliography,
a
Cosmology FAQ,
and sections on the
Age of the Universe
and on
Astronomical Distances.
Ned Wright also offers a set of upper division undergraduate lecture notes on
Stellar Systems and Cosmology.
Notes
You can download this
and print them at your leisure.
I will be lecturing from these notes.
Good Books

Ta PeiCheng (2005) Relativity, Gravitational and Cosmology
(Oxford University Press).
This is the recommended text for this course.
It contains three parts, the first on special and general relativity,
the second on cosmology,
and the third on more advanced topic in relativity.
The highlight of the text is the second part, on cosmology.
It is thoroughly up to date, and its choice of topics,
which include dark matter, dark energy,
the cosmic microwave background, and inflation,
are just what a modern text should emphasize.
The first part of the text, on relativity,
is not quite up to scratch,
because it misses out the highlight of special relativity,
namely what a scene looks like
when you travel through it at near the speed of light,
and it does not enter deeply enough into black holes,
which every student wants to know about.
The third and final part, on advanced topics in relativity,
offers you a taste of what you would learn in a graduate course
on general relativity.

James B. Hartle (2003) Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity
(Addison Wesley).
A comprehensive, uptodate text on special and general relativity,
including two chapters on cosmology.
The text is aimed at the serious undergraduate science major,
but is remarkably accessible.

Bernard F. Schutz (2003) Gravity from the Ground up
(Cambridge University Press).
From the author of the well received graduate text
"A First Course in General Relativity".
I haven't yet had the opportunity to read this book,
but it has been recommended to me by people who should know.

Edwin F. Taylor & John A. Wheeler (1997) Spacetime Physics 2nd ed.
(W. H. Freeman).
A delightful introduction to special relativity
aimed at beginning undergraduate scientists.
This is Chris Hillman's choice
Introductory Book on Special Relativity.

Edwin F. Taylor and John A. Wheeler (2000) Exploring Black Holes
(Addison Wesley).
This is an equally wonderfully written text on general relativity,
with an emphasis on black holes,
again aimed at beginning undergraduate scientists.

John F. Hawley & Katherine A. Holcomb (2005)
Foundations of Modern Cosmology, 2nd edition
(Oxford University Press).
Beautifully written, easy to follow.
Mostly on cosmology, but includes extensive chapters
on special and general relativity, and even discusses wormholes.
Its disadvantage in this course is that,
being a book aimed primarily at nonscience majors,
it does not cover the mathematics adequately,
although it does include more mathematics than is typical for such books.
You should definitely go for the 2nd edition,
because the 1st edition is woefully out of date,
thanks to extraordinary progress in observational cosmology
during the 21st century.

Kip S. Thorne (1994) Black Holes & Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous
Legacy (Norton).
A wonderfully readable, authoritative book which takes you
to the edge of knowledge in Relativity and Black Holes,
without mathematics, and without patronizing.
You won't learn relativity from this book,
but you will learn a great deal about relativity.
This is a model of how a popular science book should be written.
Other Good Books

Leo Sartori (1996)
Understanding Relativity.
This book covers special relativity in a way similar to the
way I will be presenting it, with much additional commentary and discussion.
The book concludes with single chapters on general relativity
and cosmology.

Ray D'Inverno (1992)
Introducing Einstein's Relativity
(Oxford University Press).
Covers special and general relativity, and cosmology.
A wellwritten, comprehensible, but
serious text aimed at science undergraduates.
This is Chris Hillman's choice
Introductory Book on General Relativity.
However, I think Hartle's book is now to be preferred,
being more up to date, and at least as comprehensive and comprehensible.

Matthias Blau's (2007)
Lecture Notes on General Relativity.
The best set of lecture notes aimed at graduate students that I know of.
And you can download them for free.
The original version of these notes dates to 1999,
and they are constantly being updated.

Robert P. Kirshner (2002)
Extravagant Universe : Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos
(Princeton University Press).
A popular book on the 1998 revolution that led to the Standard Model of Cosmology,
written by one of the revolutionists.

M. Begelman & M. Rees (1996)
Gravity's Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe
(Scientific American Library).
A popular book on the astronomy of black holes by CU's own
Mitch Begelman
and Britain's Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees.

John Cramer (1997)
Einstein's Bridge (Avon $13).
This is a science fiction novel involving wormholes.
The author is a practicing physicist, and knows his general relativity.
A compelling read.

Carl Sagan (1985)
Contact (Pocket Books $7).
The book that eventually became a film.
Kip Thorne was the consulting general relativistic expert on this novel.
I preferred the film to the book.

George Gamow (1965; reprinted 1996) Mr. Tompkins in Paperback
(Cambridge University Press).
A classic.
Movies
ASTR 3740 Spring 2007 Homepage
Updated 16 Jan 2007