[EBH] = Edwin F. Taylor, and John Archibald Wheeler. Exploring Black Holes: Introduction to General Relativity. Addison Wesley Longman, 2000.

[Thorne] = Thorne, Kip. Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy. W. W. Norton, 1994.

Week # Topics Readings
1 Introduction to the Class

Thorne. “A Voyage Among the Holes.” (Prologue)

2 The Universe: Questions you were afraid to ask

EBH. “Speeding.” (Chap. 1) (Special relativity), “Curving.” (Chap. 2) Pp. 2-24.

Thorne. “The Relativity of Space and Time.” (Chap. 1)

Bertschinger. Coordinates and Proper Time.

3 Recitation

EBH. “Curving.” (Chap. 2) Pp. 2-25 to the end.

Project A: The Global Positioning System

Thorne. “The Warping of Space and Time.” (Chap. 2)

4 Global Positioning System

EBH. “Plunging.”

Thorne. “Black Holes Discovered and Rejected.” (Chap. 3)

Thorne. “The Mystery of the White Dwarfs.” (Chap. 4)

Handouts (not available online):
Handout on Extremal Aging, Euler-Lagrange Equations, Hamilton’s Principle

5 Einstein’s Field Equations

EBH. “Orbiting.” (Chap. 4)

Thorne. “Implosion is Compulsory.” (Chap. 5)

6 Tracing Einstein’s Development of the Special Relativity Theory

EBH. “Seeing.” (Chap. 5)

Thorne. “Implosion to What?” (Chap. 6)

7 Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy – Sagittarius A*

EBH. “Spinning Black Hole.”

Thorne. “The Golden Age.” (Chap. 7)

8 X-Ray Binaries and the Search for Black Holes

Cosmology (New Project, replaces EBH Project G: Friedmann Universe)

Thorne. “Serendipity.” (Chap. 9)


Review prepare for Mid-term Exam.
The test covers: EBH, Thorne, handouts, homework, weekly seminars

10 The Universe and Three Examples

Thorne. “The Search.” (Chap. 8)

11 Recitation

Thorne. “Ripples of Curvature.” (Chap. 10)

12 LIGO: Detecting Gravitational Waves

Thorne. “What is Reality?” (Chap. 11)

13 Cosmic Structure Formation; from Inflation to Galaxies

Thorne. “Black Holes Evaporate.” (Chap. 12)


Project Reports in Seminar; Project Reports in Recitation Section

The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP)
WMAP is a NASA Explorer Mission that is currently measuring the temperature of the cosmic background radiation over the full sky with unprecedented accuracy. This map of the remnant heat of the Big Bang will provide answers to fundamental questions about the origin and fate of our universe. The next steps in cosmology will depend heavily on this and future data from this satellite.

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

theaters Lecture Videos
grading Exams
assignment Problem Sets