# Phys481: Special Relativity

Course topics: Topics: Historical development and the origins of SR, Lorentz Transformations, relativistic kinematics (length contraction, time dilations, etc.), relativistic optics, Minkowski spacetime, relativistic particle mechanics (and four-vector technology), tensors, electromagnetism in covariant form, introduction to classical field theory, introduction to General Relativity.

Grading: 30% Midterm-1, 30% Midterm-2, 40% Final Exam.

Problem sets are given for preparation for the exams.

Course textbooks:

-- Wolfgang Rindler, Relativity: Special, General, and Cosmological, 2nd edition.

The first seven chapters. A rigorous book and notationally unusual on occasion. For advanced undergraduates and graduates.

-- John David Jackson, Classical Electrodynamics; 3rd edition. Chapters 11 and 12. For advanced undergraduates and graduates.

-- Robert Resnick, Introduction to Special Relativity, 1st edition. Many details and examples.

Additional sources:

-- Bernard Schutz, A First Course in General Relativity, 2nd edition. The first four chapters. For graduate and advanced undergraduate students.

-- Hans Stephani, An Introduction to Special and General Relativity, 3rd edition. An extensive book with clear and detailed explanations.

-- Leonard Susskind (and Art Friedman), Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory: The Theoretical Minimum; great read at all levels; not too technical, but includes enough math to capture Susskind’s clear insights.

-- John Archibald Wheeler (with Edwin F. Taylor), Spacetime Physics: Introduction to Special Relativity. 2nd edition. A book from another legend.

-- L. D. Landau and E. M. Lifshitz, The Classical Theory of Fields, 4th edition. The first four chapters. Another classic.

Lecture notes:

Lecture 1: Introduction, history, motivation.

Lecture 2: Lecture-2, Simultaneity, Lorentz transformations, Minkowski diagrams

Lecture 3: Relativistic kinematics: Length contraction, time dilation, twin paradox

Lecture 3 (extra): The twin problem.

Lecture 4: Acceleration, relativistic optics.

Lecture 5: Four-vectors, tensors.

Lecture 6: Four velocity, energy-momentum, relativistic dynamics, E=mc2.

Lecture 7: Covariant EMT, gauge transformations.

Lecture 8: Lagrangian formalism of EMT, classical field theory.

Lecture 9: Classical field theory cont., Lorentz group.

Lecture 10: Lorentz group cont., Thomas precession (Wigner rotation).

Lecture 11: Introduction to General Relativity.

Sample problem sets:

The problems in the sets will be discussed in the recitation sessions by the TA of the course.

Sample exams: