Relativity Theory I (2017-18) -- PHY483F/1483F

[pic of your professor]
[image of black hole geometry]

Brief overview

This course will introduce General Relativity from a physics point of view, emphasizing a modern perspective. I will begin with a review and rephrasing of special relativity, including the case of constant acceleration. Then I will motivate curved spacetime, the covariant derivative, and the Christoffel connection. I will derive the equation for a geodesic, the analogue of a straight line in curved spacetime. From there, I will develop the Riemann curvature tensor, and show how it encodes useful physics like tidal forces and geodesic deviation. Then I will introduce the famous Einstein equations and show how they can be used to study equations for stars and black holes. I will showcase some of the experimental successes of GR, before finishing up with a description of the origin of Einstein's equations starting from an action principle and a brief introduction to cosmology. (For more details, please see the syllabus.)

Important Things

Classes are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 11:10-12:00 and tutorials are held on Fridays from 13:10-14:00, both in MP134. My regular weekly office hours are held on Tuesdays from 16:15-17:30 in MP1118.

Tips for understanding lectures

I frequently update the lecture notes to make them clearer and to remove typos, after questions that I get (a) in class, (b) after class in the corridor, and (c) during office hours. So if some point in the lecture notes didn't seem clear the first time you tried reading about it, try reloading the notes to see if there is an upgraded explanation. You can tell if I have updated the notes because I put the date stamp for each version on the front page.

It is often easier to get confident with the material if you read the lecture notes before class. I never cover more than 6 pages per lecture, so if you read the next 6 pages beyond where we finished last time, you should find classes easier. I welcome questions in class, as long as asking them is likely to benefit other students as well as you. If your question is more individual, I am happy to answer it in office hours.


These will be posted in reverse chronological order, to make the latest ones easiest to find.