Chapter

Introduction and overview

Ta-Pei Cheng

in Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology

Second edition

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199573639
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722448 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573639.003.0001

Series: Oxford Master Series in Physics

                      Introduction and overview

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Relativity means that physically it is impossible to detect absolute motion. This can be stated as a “symmetry in physics”. Special relativity (SR) is the symmetry with respect to coordinate transformations among inertial frames, general relativity (GR) among more general frames, including the accelerating coordinate systems. GR is also the relativistic theory of gravitation, and SR is valid only in the absence of gravity. Einstein's motivations to develop GR are reviewed, and his basic idea of curved spacetime as the gravitation field is outlined. Relativity represents a new understanding of space and time. GR provides the natural conceptual framework for cosmology. Experimental foundation of GR will be emphasized in our presentation. The necessary mathematics is introduced as it is needed.

Keywords: Physics symmetry; special vs. general relativity; Einstein's motivations; gravity theory; curved spacetime; tests of relativity; cosmology

Chapter.  6307 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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