PHYSICS 161: Black Holes, General Relativity, and the Milky Way
Want to know what a black hole is and what would happen if you fell in?
Want to be able to calculate it yourself? Want to learn about observations
of stuff falling into a 3 million solar mass black hole at the Center
of our own Milky Way galaxy?
This course is for anyone who has a strong curiosity
and has completed the Physics 2 or Physics 4 Introductory Physics sequence.
(That includes physics 2D or Physics 4D and 4E!)
It is part of the Astro sequence 160-161-162-163, but can be taken without 160.
We will use calculus and will be learning some new mathematics,
but will emphasize conceptual understanding.
There will be graded homework and a term paper.
We will start with Einstein's remarkable vision of time and space,
learning what it means to say that gravity is a bending of spacetime.
Then we consider the important black hole case and find
how things move and get trapped around a black hole.
More qualitative discussion of rotating black holes and wormholes will
be followed by discussion of how we discover black holes and what is
known about them observationally. Time permitting we will also talk
about gravitational lensing and gravity waves.
Throughout we will be learning and using the jargon used by
practicing astronomers. Almost all branches of physics are used
in astrophysics, so besides being fun, this course will exercise
your physics, mathematical, and engineering skills by applying them
to real-world situations.
DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS
WINTER QUARTER 2008
PHYSICS 161: Black Holes and the Milky Way
For further information contact Prof. Kim Griest, at 534-8914