Relativity Theory I (2018-19) -- PHY483F/1483F
This course will introduce General Relativity from a physics point of view, emphasizing a modern perspective. I will begin with a review and a rephrasing of Special Relativity, including the case of constant relativistic acceleration. Then I will motivate curved spacetime, the affine connection, and the covariant derivative. 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 geodesic deviation and tidal forces. 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 then showcase several of the experimental successes of GR, finishing up with the recent discovery of gravitational waves. (For more details, please see the syllabus.)
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 MP137. My regular weekly office hours are held on Wednesdays from 16:10-18:00 in MP1118.
These will be posted in reverse chronological order, to make the latest ones easiest to find.
- W19Dec: My sincerest apologies for the unfortunate typo on Q2(d) in the exam. 😞 In recognition of the extra stress it caused, I am awarding everyone full marks on that part. I will also scale up exam scores as needed.
- F14Dec: GOOD LUCK for next Monday! Please remember: how well you do on the exam (and in the course) is not a measure of your worthiness as a physics student or as a human being. I value your presence in my course, regardless.
- F14Dec: I have updated the diagram for bending of light in the lecture notes. The figure in HEL was wrong and it was confusing people. I made a sketch by hand for how it was supposed to look.
- R06Dec: My remaining office hours will be on
If you cannot attend either, you may book a private appointment (in person/on Skype). To do so, send me email stating all the days/times when you are available; I will respond with a timeframe when I am also available.
- Wed.12.Dec. from 16:00-18:00
- Fri.14.Dec. from 13:00-15:00
- M03Dec: A big hearty thank you to everyone who has been attending lectures, for being such a great class. It has been my privilege and pleasure to teach you all. Note: I will hold office hours this Wednesday at the usual time.
- M03Dec: Our final class will be on Thursday 6th December, in the usual MP137, at 11:10h. I will discuss the format of the exam, and give a lightning review of pertinent material. Together, we will decide on when remaining office hours before the exam are to be held. If you cannot make regular office hours, let me know by email if you can do a Skype video session to get your questions answered, which is often almost as good as talking in person. It is best if you tell me which timeframes are feasible for you over the next several daytimes and evenings; I will pick a time that also works for me and confirm by email.
- M03Dec: If you wish to call me on the telephone, please call only between 09:00-18:00h Monday-Friday, or in urgent situations 09:00-21:00 Monday-Sunday. Begin your call by stating (a) that you are in my General Relativity class at UofT and (b) the name you like to be called. If you want me to help you, do not misgender me -- instead, consult this handy guide on getting my name, pronouns, and title right.
- T27Nov: About our final exam.
- Please begin studying now if you have not already done so.
- I recommend practising on old exams, which can be found in the Library repository. Questions to avoid attempting because we did not cover the relevant material this year are: 2015: Q3; 2016: Q5; 2017: Q3. Note also that those old exams used different sign conventions in places.
- Please note that the only place I provide hints about what will be on the exam is in lectures. That is a policy I have maintained throughout the semester.
- There will be a review lecture on Thu.06.Dec., as our
makeup Monday lecture in lieu of the day we lost on Thanksgiving.
- T20Nov: Reminder: if you wish to activate your Golden Ticket for HW4, you must inform me no later than 11:00am on Thursday 22nd November. If you have activated your Golden Ticket for HW4, your revised final deadline for handing in will be 11:00am Thursday 6th December. Work handed in any later will not be graded.
- R15Nov: Homework 4 is posted. It will be due in two weeks, by 11:00h on R29Nov.
- F09Nov: midterm grades have been posted to Quercus. The average score was 80% and the standard deviation was 14%. [more details]
- R08Nov: an eagle-eyed student has noticed that equations (14.15) on page 73 of the lecture notes had a sign error in the Ricci components. I have corrected this as soon as I learned of it because it is pertinent to solving HW3 Q3.
- R01Nov: Homework 3 is posted, and it is due by 11:00h on Thu.15.Nov. Please note: yes, I will be holding office hours during Reading Week.
- W31Oct: The final exam date has been posted. Please refer to the December exam timetable -- regulations forbid re-posting exam spacetime coordinates elsewhere on the web. This year we got allocated a pretty good date: not too early, not right at the end.
- T16Oct: As promised, here are some snippets from past midterm questions for you to practice on.
- R11Oct:I announced in class today that the midterm will cover the first 13 lectures. Material from 25.Oct and 29.Oct will not be on the 30.Oct midterm.
- R04Oct: Homework 2 is posted.
It will be due in two weeks, by 11:00h on R18Oct.
- W03Oct: Jesse (my TA) will be teaching tomorrow's lecture introducing the Riemann tensor in my stead while I am at an all-day meeting at York U. Please also note that the lecture notes have been updated, correcting a few typos.
- R20Sep: Homework 1 is posted, and it will be due by 11:00h on R04Oct. You already have the background to do Q1.1, and today's lecture will give you the background to do Q1.2. I will cover background material needed for Q1.3 next week.
- T18Sep: I have updated the lecture notes. Please keep an eye out for further updates in future, which will typically occur at least once a week. Please also recall that I will be giving the first homework assignment on R20Sep, which will be due by 11:00h on R04Oct.
- T11Sep: UofT has confirmed that our midterm exam (2 hours, out of class) will be held on Tuesday 30th October from 18:00-20:00h in WI 1017, Wilson Hall, New College.
- R06Sep: It was great to meet you all in the first class today. We agreed that my office hours will be on Wednesdays from 16:10-18:00h in my office, MP1118. Tutorials start tomorrow, with pertinent review material.
- T24Jul: The first day of class will be Thursday 6th September at 11am in MP137, and I look forward to meeting you all. Bring your calendars: we will decide on my office hours and the midterm date together.