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



I welcome motivated students from various backgrounds to this physics course. General Relativity is a really pretty subject, and I would like to open the door to it for as many students as possible. I try really hard to give physics and general intellectual inspiration to everyone taking my courses, regardless of their final grade. There are limits, however: this is a physics course, not a mathemathics or philosophy course, and I am not a superhero. So if you are unsure whether you have the necessary physics and math background to appreciate the material, please contact me for an appointment to chat about it in person.

PHY483F/PHY1483F Relativity Theory 1 is a cross-listed course, which means that both undergraduate and graduate students can take it for credit. In recent years the ratio has hovered around 70% undergrad vs 30% grad. Why do I have prerequisites? Students taking GR need a background in electromagnetism in non-Cartesian coordinate systems, the multipole expansion, Maxwell's equations, and the vector potential, because these aspects of E&M along with special relativity are used as key stepping stones to general relativity. Students also need a background in the calculus of variations and Lagrangians, in order to properly grasp how geodesics arise and where Einstein's equations come from.

I do not waive prerequisites automatically just for the asking, but I am definitely open to hearing a good intellectual case for a waiver. Students seeking a waiver need to get the permission of the Associate Chair for (under)graduate studies and the instructor (me).