Physics Department Senior Seminar


Last update 4/8/09

The first seminar is on Friday, 4/10 from 11:00 - 11:50 pm in MH5301. There will be eight seminar sessions, one per week.

Seminars:        Fridays 11:00 - 11:50 pm
Location:        Mayer Hall 5301

Instructor:       Hans P. Paar

Office:            Mayer Hall Annex 5601 and Science and Engineering Research Facility (SERF) 326
Tel.:                534 2568 and 246 0405 (e-mail is better)

At UCSD General Relativity (GR) is taught in the second year of graduate school and takes two quarters. It involves a healthy amount of tensor calculus, hence the two quarters.

This senior seminar is for those undergraduates that do not plan to go to graduate school and those that do plan to go there but do not want to wait nearly two years to experience the excitement of General Relativity. We will use no math beyond multivariable calculus.

After a brief introduction to GR we will briefly review the principles of Special Relativity and introduce a notation that is not the one we used in Physics 2D and 4E or equivalent. This notation smoothes the way to GR.

This is followed by an introduction of Einstein's ideas about the relation between space-time and gravity, culminating in his field equations.

We will not solve the equations (that requires tensor calculus) but simply state the solutions for two important cases: a single mass point in empty space and the (accelerating) expanding universe with dark matter and dark energy.

When studying these examples, we will encounter many important concepts, such as redshift, time dilation and distance measures. We will discuss experimental tests of GR.

There is no textbook assigned for GR. In preparation for the seminar you might review Special Relativity from the textbook you used in Physics 2D or 4D or equivalent.