Topic outline

  • General

    EinsteinSpecial Relativity

    NSC564 - 2    Credits - Introductory

    Time: Monday      10:30am - 11:20am
              Wednesday 10:30am - 11:20am

    Place: Sci 117A

    Faculty: Sara Salimbeni

    An introduction to Einstein's special relativity, investigating how this theory has changed our understanding of space and time. The class will also focus on the discussion of some of the science presented in science fiction movies that incorporate Einstein's theory. Special relativity can be understood completely with only a little math, and this makes this course suitable both for science students and non-science students willing to know more about one of the theories that drastically changed our understanding of physics during the 20th century.

    Prerequisite: Basic high school algebra and geometry

    Textbooks: It's About Time  by  Mermin   

  • Forum

  • Week 1

    8/29 intro class 

    • Week 2

      9/3 The assignment for today is to read chapter 1 of the text book. 

      You should also give me the results on the algebra test. Some of you can skip this test (you know who you are), but you still have to answer the following questions:

      Why do you want to attend this class? Are you interested in a scientic curriculum? If not what are your main interests? What do you hope to learn from this class?

      9/5 still chapter 1

      • Week 3

        9/10 Reading Chapter 2

        9/12 Reading Chapter 3 

        • Week 4

          9/17 Chapter 4 

          9/19 Chapter 4

          • Week 5

            9/24 Chapter 5 & We will discuss the situation: the big and the little ball are fired at each other with the same speed u (end of chaoter 4). How does the little ball move after the collision?

            9/26 Chapter 5

            • Week 6

              10/1 Chaper 6, up to "In the rest of this chapter..." (the rest of the chapter is volonteer reading)

              • Week 7

                10/8 Chapter 7


                • week 8

                  10/15 Chapter 8 - Please solve the exercises on the file if you haven't finished them in class. If you missed more than two, please solve at least two exercises chosen from the following: a) Do one exercise from among #1, 2, and 5 and b) Do either #3 or # 4.

                  • Week 9

                    10/22 Please read and think carefully and try to solve the problems in the file. You should come in class at least with a plan of attack on how to solve them. We will discuss them in class. 

                    10/24 Reading Chapter 9

                    • week 10

                      10/29 reading up to page 124 (pag 124 excluded)

                      10/31 reading Chapter 10

                      • week 11

                        11/5 chapter 10

                        11/7 chapter 10

                        • week 12

                          11/12  reading chapter 11 (stop at the end of page 157)

                          11/14  reading chapter 11 &

                          Assignment on the Minkowsky diagram due.
                          Complete the exercises at the following link

                          You will have to give me a description of each solution using your own words. These explanations are almost more important to me than the numerical results.
                          The goals of this assignment are

                          a) to make you practice with the Minkowsky diagram
                          b) to make you review the various relativistic effects, by describing them using your own vocabulary.

                          • Week 13

                            11/19 Exercises due (see file)


                            • This topic

                              Week 14

                              11/26 reading chapter 12. Please focus on the questions in the attached file while reading the chapter. We will focus on these questions during the discussion. You do not need to write them down, but think deeply about them. 

                              11/28 the reading is at the following link

                              • Week 15

                                12/3 reading:  file

                                12/5 reading chapter 13