Department of Physics
Office: Disque 808
Office hours: TBA
Course Description and Philosophy
Course rules of conduct
Welcome to the home page for Honors 301, Special Theory of Relativity. Watch this space for important announcements and useful hints.
Send me email to ask questions about homework assignments and the course readings so that I can give you timely feedback and send any relevant homework hints to everyone else in the class. To ensure that you receive email sent to the class, you must read email sent to your official Drexel email address.
All lecture notes and homework solutions will be distributed as PDF files from this web page. No paper copies will be handed out.
Office hours: TBA.
Relativity is sometimes thought of as "far out" science applicable only to extreme astrophysical circumstances. In fact, understanding of both Special and General Relativity is necessary for operation of several systems that we have come to rely on. Operation of satellites in orbit around the Earth requires that we compute the effects of both Special and General relativity. Systems like GPS would utterly fail without doing so (which means that most of our advanced weapons guidance systems would fail). I'll show you a "Handbook on Relativistic Time Transfer" that proves this point.
Topics that will be covered in this course include
The most important goal of this course is that you further develop your ability to think clearly and quantitatively about the physical world. It is unlikely that your daily life and work will require you to instantly recall the equations that we will use. However, well-developed physical insight will serve you well in whatever endeavor you choose. Einstein was fond of the ``gedankenexperiment'' - the thought experiment - as a means of gaining insight on a problem. I hope that this course will likewise stretch your imagination.
The Class Participation component will be partially based on attendance. Extra credit will be given to new theories of spacetime and gravity that result in published papers in the Physical Review.
Electronic distractions: Silence your cell phone or leave it home. Only phone calls (to me) from the Nobel Prize committee will be tolerated. Laptop computers may be used only for taking notes. Web surfing, texting, reading/sending email is prohibited during class. I will ask you to leave the class if you violate this rule.
Plagiarism: Use your own very large brain (you're a physicist!) and
don't even think about cheating. See homework rules below. The usual University rules apply. By
stepping into the classroom, you agree to abide by Drexel's policy on
Please read the assignments before class and prepare to ask questions.
See the Course Schedule below for the weekly reading assignments.
Good biographies about Einstein:
Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais (best for the science) and Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson (most recent comprehensive biography).
Hagerty Library will have Spacetime Physics and the biographies on reserve. You must use the 2nd edition to get the sections and problems right (I don't have the 1st, so please don't ask me how they correspond).
Solutions to the homework will be posted on the web page on the due date; that is why late homework will not be accepted. Please strive to present your answers in a neat, workmanlike fashion; the clarity of your solutions will count toward your grade.
Science is a collaborative enterprise and you are encouraged to discuss the homework problems. Brainstorming is fun! (Even Einstein received help.) But you and you alone are responsible for the work that you turn in. In other words, you may talk about the problems with your classmates, but you must write out your own solutions. Serious breaches of this policy will result in homework scores being dividing by the number of ``participants.'' Show your work. Answers without justification will receive no credit.
Hints will be posted here as I think of useful info or in response to your questions.
The Final will be 2 hours long, 10:00am-12:00pm on Thursday, March 19 in Disque 919. The Final will include material from the entire course, but with emphasis on the second half of the course. Please note that material from Week 10 is not covered in any homework, but will be covered in the final.
The exams will be open book and open note. But you'll find that an open mind will be most helpful. Calculators may be used for simple arithmetic operations. The use of calculators for execution of ``memorized'' formulae is specifically not allowed. Ask me if you are uncertain about this policy.
|1||January 6, 8||ch. 1||HW1|
|2||January 13, 15||ch. 2||HW2|
|3||January 20, 22||ch. 3||HW3|
|4||January 27, 29||ch. LT||HW4|
|5||February 3, 5||ch. 4|
|6||February 10, 12||ch. 5||HW5||Midterm (Feb. 12)|
|7||February 17 (no class Feb. 19)||ch. 6||HW6|
|8||February 24, 26||ch. 7||HW7|
|9||March 3, 5||ch. 8||HW8|
|10||March 10, 12||ch. 9|
|11||No Class||Final Exam, March 19|
Last update: March 17, 2015