Course Description

This course is normally taken by physics majors in their sophomore year.

Major Topics Include

  • Einstein's Postulates, and their Consequences for
    • Simultaneity
    • Time Dilation
    • Length Contraction
    • Clock Synchronization
  • Lorentz Transformation
  • Relativistic Effects and Paradoxes
  • Minkowski Diagrams
  • Relativistic Invariants and Four-Vectors
  • Relativistic Momentum, Energy, and Mass
  • Relativistic Particle Collisions
  • Relativity and Electricity
    • Coulomb's Law
    • Magnetic Fields
  • Introduction to Key Concepts of General Relativity
    • Principle of Equivalence
    • Cosmology
    • Friedman-Robertson-Walker Metric
    • Black Holes
    • Schwarzchild Metric
    • Gravitational Red Shift
    • Particle and Light Trajectories
    • Shapiro Delay
    • Gravitational Lensing


Physics I (8.01), Calculus II (18.02)


Resnick, Robert. Introduction to Special Relativity. New York, NY: Wiley, 1968.

French, A. P. Special Relativity. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Education Research Center: MIT Introductory Physics Series. New York, NY: Norton, 1968.

Taylor, Edwin F., and John A. Wheeler. Exploring Black Holes: Introduction to General Relativity. San Francisco, CA: Addison Wesley Longman, 2000. ISBN: 9780201384239.


Weekly Problem Sets (9 total) 20%
Quiz 1 (1 hour) 20%
Quiz 2 (1 hour) 20%
Final Exam 40%