8.033 | Fall 2006 | Undergraduate



Course Description

This course, which concentrates on special relativity, is normally taken by physics majors in their sophomore year. Topics include Einstein’s postulates, the Lorentz transformation, relativistic effects and paradoxes, and applications involving electromagnetism and particle physics. This course also provides a brief introduction to some concepts of general relativity, including the principle of equivalence, the Schwartzschild metric and black holes, and the FRW metric and cosmology.

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


8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics_, _ 18.02 Calculus II: Multivariable Calculus


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%

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2006
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes