PHSX 141N Einstein's Relativity (Honors Course)
In this course, industrious students with a working knowledge of algebra and trigonometry and a modest exposure to calculus will gain deep insight into the counter intuitive nature of space and time and will acquire a greater appreciation for the power and beauty of theoretical physics. We will begin with a brief historical view of the study of motion including the works of Galileo, and Newton. We will explore the necessity of introducing relativity theory to match known experimental results. Einstein's special theory of relativity is introduced from a modern, geometrically oriented perspective, using space time diagrams throughout, and emphasizing the deep connection between time and space. We will carefully develop the Lorentz transformation equations and use them to explore several of the apparent "paradoxes" of the theory. Finally, we will apply the results of relativity theory to the practical real world problems of high-energy particle physics, where the use of relativity is essential. Throughout the course, we will emphasize the logical structure of relativity to show how the unexpected and counter intuitive consequences of the theory follow directly and inevitably from the principle of relativity: "the laws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames."
Prerequisites: Working knowledge of high school algebra and trigonometry. Some exposure to high school physics and calculus is preferred.