A working knowledge of Einstein's theory of general relativity is an essential tool for every physicist today. This self-contained book is an introductory text on the subject aimed at first-year graduate students, or advanced undergraduates, in physics that assumes only a basic understanding of classical Lagrangian mechanics. The mechanics problem of a point mass constrained to move without friction on a two-dimensional surface of arbitrary shape serves as a paradigm for the development of the mathematics and physics of general relativity. After reviewing special relativity, the basic principles of general relativity are presented, and the most important applications are discussed. The final special topics section guides the reader through a few important areas of current research. This book will allow the reader to approach the more advanced texts and monographs, as well as the continual influx of fascinating new experimental results, with a deeper understanding and sense of appreciation.
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