I'm having trouble understanding the proof given in Morgan's *The Seiberg-Witten Equations* that every 4-manifold $X$ admits a $Spin^c$ structure (Lemma 3.1.2). One can easily see from the exact sequence:
\begin{equation*}
H^1(X;Spin^c) \to H^1(X; SO(n)) \oplus H^1(X;\mathbb{Z}) \xrightarrow{c_1+w_2} H^2(X;\mathbb{Z}_2)
\end{equation*}
that a $Spin^c$ structure will exist iff $w_2(TX)$ lifts to an integral class, which we can check using Bockstein homomorphisms. After that, I'm lost; I'm not sure if these are theorems, or whether they are supposed to be obvious:

- In what sense is every $\mathbb{Z}/2^k \mathbb{Z}$ 3-class represented by a mapping from a smooth $\mathbb{Z}/2^k \mathbb{Z}$-manifold into $X$?
- Why are integral 2-classes that represent
*torsion*elements necessarily represented by embedded oriented surfaces?

EDIT: Since the proof from Morgan's book is quite short, I may as well write out the whole thing here:

"We need only see that $w_2(X)$ lifts to an integral class $c \in H^2(X;\mathbb{Z})$ in order to prove the existence of a $Spin^c$ lifting. But for any class $x \in H_2(X;\mathbb{Z}/2 \mathbb{Z})$ the value of $w_2(X)$ on $x$ is given as follows: represent $x$ as an embedded (possibly non-orientable) closed surface in $X$ and take the self-intersection of this surface modulo two. To see that $w_2(X)$ lifts to an integral class, we must see that its integral Bockstein $\delta w_2(X)$ is zero. But this torsion integral class is zero if and only if it evaluates trivially on every $\mathbb{Z}/2^k \mathbb{Z}$ class of dimension three. Any such class is represented by a mapping of a smooth $\mathbb{Z}/2^k \mathbb{Z}$-manifold into $X$. The value of $\delta w_2(X)$ on such a class is equal to the value of $w_2(X)$ on the Bockstein of this $\mathbb{Z}/2^k\mathbb{Z}$-manifold. Thus, we need only see that $w_2(X)$ vanishes on integral classes which represent torsion elements in $H_2(X;\mathbb{Z})$. But this is clear, any such class is represented by a smoothly embedded oriented surface with zero self-intersection".

I suppose what I'm really asking is which statements in this proof are non-trivial theorems about the topology of 4-manifolds, and which ones are supposed to be obvious?

Sorry, I don't seem to be able to comment, so I'll just say here: Ryan Budney, I hope this makes the question less vague, and Anton Fetisov, yes, there are other proofs of this fact that I do understand, but I'm specifically trying to understand this proof, because it seems very slick.

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