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  • HAWKING, Stephen (his copy); MISNER, Charles W.; THORNE, Kip S.; WHEELR, John Archibald

    Editore: Freeman: San Fransisco and Reading, 1973

    Da: Boris Jardine Rare Books, Cambridge, Regno Unito

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    Soft cover. Condizione: Good. 1st Edition. 202x252mm; pp. [4, red card 'sign conventions'], xxvi, [4]. STEPHEN HAWKING'S COPY OF 'MTW', THE LEGENDARY BOOK ON GRAVITATION, REVIEWED BY HIM IN NATURE. Under the title 'General Relativity' Hawking reviewed the book in Nature (21 June 1974), stating that "the book is a major landmark in the field' and correctly foreseeing that would 'become the most widely used textbook and reference work on the subject." More than this praise, however, Hawking uses his review to expound on an issue very close to his heart: the relationship between quantum physics and general relativity: "During the period 1920-1960," he writes, "the most exciting field of physics seemed to be quantum theory. The success of quantum electrodynamics led most physicists to feel that physics was Feynman diagrams. They distrusted general relativity because of its classical and geometric nature. [. . .] But geometric insights have played an important part in many of the outstanding recent theoretical developments such as black holes, space-time singularities and gravitational radiation. The answer therefore seems to be not to free general relativity from geometry but to teach geometry to nhvsicists brought up on the normal ideas of special relativity; that is, to teach them to regard space-time as a differentiable manifold and not as a flat vector space. This is what Misner, Thorne and Wheeler have set out to do in their book." Given the enormous size and weight of the book it is hard not to wonder at Hawking's reading of it, and sure enough he does comment on this, wryly, at the end of his review, noting that the book is "well printed and bound and the paperback version is cheap for a book of this size." Although generally unmarked, there is a pencil mathematical annotation in the chapter on black holes. Tantalizing as this is, we do not claim that the note is by Hawking, as his handwriting had already deteriotated markedly by 1973. 'MTW' is rightly understood as a classic in the exposition of general relativity. In 2003 Hawking's collaborater James Hartle wrote that "Over thirty years since its publication, Gravitation is still the most comprehensive treatise on general relativity. An authoritative and complete discussion of almost any topic in the subject can be found within its 1300 pages. It also contains an extensive bibliography with references to original sources. Written by three twentieth-century masters of the subject, it set the style for many later texts on the subject". Hawking himself returned to the text a number of times, notably in his and Werner Israel's book 'Three Hundred Years of Gravitation' (Cambridge, 1987). An outstanding association copy: provenance comes via the Cambridge bookshop that handled Hawking's personal library and is indicated by a custom bookplate. Good condition: quite well used, spine marked from repeated opening, top edge lightly spotted; faint damp marking to the lower edge of the final quarter or so of the book.