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The Meaning of Einstein's Equation

John C. Baez

Department of Mathematics, University of California
Riverside, California 92521, USA

Emory F. Bunn

Physics Department, University of Richmond,
Richmond, Virginia 23173, USA

January 4, 2006

Also available in PDF


This is a brief introduction to general relativity, designed for both students and teachers of the subject. While there are many excellent expositions of general relativity, few adequately explain the geometrical meaning of the basic equation of the theory: Einstein's equation. Here we give a simple formulation of this equation in terms of the motion of freely falling test particles. We also sketch some of the consequences of this formulation and explain how it is equivalent to the usual one in terms of tensors. Finally, we include an annotated bibliography of books, articles and websites suitable for the student of relativity.

Table of Contents:
If you like this, you may also enjoy The General Relativity Tutorial.

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© 2006 John Baez and Emory Bunn