Special Relativity, PH2011/2A, @StAndrews

  • Course Outline and Lecture Notes

    Lecture Topics Lecture Topics
    SR1 From Galileo Galilei to Einstein
    • Galilean Relativity
    • Frames of Reference
    • Galilean Transformation
    • Newton's Laws of Motion
    • Galilean Invariance
    • Light, Maxwell's Equations,
      and the Aether
    • Einstein's Postulates
    SR2 Consequences of Einstein's
    Postulates from Simple Thought
    • Constancy of Speed of
    • Clock Synchronization
    • Apparent Paradoxes
    • Relative Simultaneity
    • Time Dilation
    • Length Contraction
    SR3 The Lorentz Transformation
    • Derivation of the Lorentz
    • Galileo's Mistake
    • Transformations in Matrix
    SR4 Main Cosequences of Lorentz
    • Relative Simultaneity
    • Time Dilation
    • Length Contraction
    • Some Examples
    • The Invariant Interval
    SR5 The Doppler Effect
    • Classical Doppler Effect
      for Sound
    • Doppler Shift for Light
    • Small Velocity Approxi-
    SR6 Velocity Transformations
    • Addition of Velocities
      in Classical (Newtonian)
    • Velocity Transformation in
      Special Relativity
    SR7 Relativistic Energy and
    • Newtonian Force
      and Momentum
    • Non-Conservation of
      Newtonianin Momentum
      in Special Relativity
    • Relativistic Momentum
    • Relativistic Energy
    • Energy-Momentum Relation
    SR8 Spacetime, Causality
    and Light Cones
    • 4-Vectors
    • Minkowski Metric
    • Spacetime Diagrams
    • Absolute Causality
    • Light Cones
    SR9 Resolving Paradoxes
    • The Twin Paradox
    • Outwards Journey
    • Return Trip
    • Resolution of Paradox

  • Books recommended as core/background reading

    • Nonclassical Physics (Beyond Newton’s View), R. Harris (Addison-Wesley)
      Chapter 1 – course based strongly on the approach in this chapter

    • Fundamentals of Physics, Haliday, Resnick, Walker (Wiley)
      Chapter 38 - if you have this book, then reading this chapter will do no harm

    • Special Relativity, A.P. French (Chapman and Hall)
      Classic text - goes into much more depth than is possible in this course.
      Slightly different approach. Useful source of reference.

    • Relativity Visualized, Lewis Carroll Epstein (Insight Press)
      Popular science book- lots of fun, easy to read, useful background on
      developing intuition about special relativity