Monday, January 31, 2011

Heavy Matters

I am now sitting at my desk and preparing for class, leafing through an old heavy dust-covered book with the simple title Gravitation., by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler. As an undergraduate, I had great aspirations that included reading this 1200-page tome. As is the case with many of my books, it sat on my shelf for decades without notice.

It all started a few minutes ago, when I recalled that this book clearly explained differential forms, a topic that I plan to introduce in my class today. So, I climbed my library ladder and hauled it to my desk. Paging through the book, I marveled at its beauty, both in presentation style and illustrations. I still consider it a difficult read, but I am now better equipped to understand the physics.

This wonderful book not only took the authors and their helpers many person-years of effort, but it covers a range of topics that have been developed by the most brilliant minds of the past century. I am thankful to the efforts of all those who contributed to this field, and as a result, enriched my life.

The dedication says it best:

We dedicate this book to our fellow citizens who, for love of truth, take from their own wants by taxes and gifts, and now and then send forth one of themselves as dedicated servant, to forward the search into the mysteries and marvelous simplicities of this strange and beautiful Universe, our home.

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