You can begin by reading this:
Clicking on any of the underlined key concepts will then take you to the corresponding point in this more detailed:In the long course outline, clicking on any underlined key concept will take you to a still more detailed exposition of that concept. A more formal presentation of this material can be found here:
including some extra stuff, but leaving out many other things.
Alternatively, you can dive right in and read the adventures of
This is the fun part! In these stories, the hapless peasant Oz learns general relativity from a grumpy but powerful wizard. But, unless you are already familiar with general relativity, to understand these adventures you will need to look at the other material from time to time.All this material originated on the newsgroup sci.physics. Much of it is written by Oz and I, but there are also substantial contributions by Ted Bunn, Ed Green, Keith Ramsay, Bruce Scott, Bronis Vidugiris, and Michael Weiss.
You can also get
as it actually occurred on sci.physics. This has much more detail than the material above, and it's a lot of fun, but it's a bit disorganized. If someone wants to make webpages out of this stuff, please do - and let me have copies.General relativity is usually written with lots of superscripts and subscripts. Mitchell Charity has kindly improved these web pages so that they look nice. However, not all old web browsers can handle this. If you don't see the word ^{`superscript'} raised in this sentence, click here, and you will get the old version of these pages, without nice-looking superscripts and subscripts.
You should start by checking out Chris Hillman's stuff on Relativity on the World-Wide Web. There are some nice books available for free online!
Unfortunately, the best books on general relativity still cost money. But, they're worth the price. So:
Here are four nontechnical introductions, all quite different in flavor. You can't really learn the details of general relativity from these books, but they're written by world-class experts, and they're a great way to get an intuitive feel for the subject:
Before you get serious about learning general relativity, it helps to have special relativity down cold. For this, try:
When you're ready to actually dive into general relativity, you might start with one of these books:
And when you want to really master general relativity, you'll have to read the classics:
If you want to bone up on your geometry before getting deeper into general relativity you should check out:
To be honest, I must admit to having written a book dealing with general relativity myself:
It concentrates on the mathematics of general relativity and other gauge fields, such as Maxwell's equations and the Yang-Mills equations, which describe the strong and electroweak forces.
© 2006 John Baez
baez@math.removethis.ucr.andthis.edu