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The Physical WorldAn Inspirational Tour of Fundamental Physics$
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Nicholas Manton and Nicholas Mee

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795933.001.0001

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General Relativity

General Relativity

(p.158) 6 General Relativity
The Physical World

Nicholas Manton

Nicholas Mee

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the physical motivation for general relativity, derives the Einstein field equation and gives concise derivations of the main results of the theory. It begins with the equivalence principle, tidal forces in Newtonian gravity and their connection to curved spacetime geometry. This leads to a derivation of the field equation. Tests of general relativity are considered: Mercury’s perihelion advance, gravitational redshift, the deflection of starlight and gravitational lenses. The exterior and interior Schwarzschild solutions are discussed. Eddington–Finkelstein coordinates are used to describe objects falling into non-rotating black holes. The Kerr metric is used to describe rotating black holes and their astrophysical consequences. Gravitational waves are described and used to explain the orbital decay of binary neutron stars. Their recent detection by LIGO and the beginning of a new era of gravitational wave astronomy is discussed. Finally, the gravitational field equations are derived from the Einstein–Hilbert action.

Keywords:   Einstein equation, curved spacetime, Schwarzschild solution, black hole, LIGO, gravitational waves, binary neutron star, gravitational lens, Einstein–Hilbert action

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