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Relativity, Gravitation and CosmologyA Basic Introduction$
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Ta-Pei Cheng

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573639

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573639.001.0001

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Introduction and overview

Introduction and overview

(p.3) 1 Introduction and overview
Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology

Ta-Pei Cheng

Oxford University Press

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

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