Next: MC224 Vector Calculus
Up: Year 2
Previous: MC222 Optimisation
MC223 Relativity
Credits: 10 
Convenor: Dr. M. D. Dampier 
Semester: 2 
Prerequisites: 
essential: MC123 

Assessment: 
Regular coursework: 20% 
One and a half hour exam: 80% 
Lectures: 
18 
Classes: 
5 
Tutorials: 
none 
Private Study: 
52 
Labs: 
none 
Seminars: 
none 
Project: 
none 
Other: 
none 
Total: 
75 


Course Description
This course introduces the basic ideas of
Einstein's special theory of relativity. The
connection with Newtonian mechanics is exploited and
the simple kcalculus method of
Milne and Bondi is used to obtain the equations of
the theory. References to experiment
are kept to a minimum.
Aims
The course aims to give the student the ability to use with confidence the ideas of world
line and spacetime and to understand how to solve problems using the Lorentz
transformations and the conservation of 4momentum. The module forms an essential
foundation for the course MC435 on General Relativity and will also be found useful in
the course MC424 on electromagnetic theory.
Objectives
To be aware of the principle of relativity in Newtonian
mechanics and to see why the
propagation of light poses a difficulty to classical theory.
To learn how to use spacetime conceptualisation and the kcalculus.
To understand the difference between the classical and relativistic ideas of time.
To be able to use the Lorentz transformations and 4vectors to draw out the implications
of the theory.
To understand how an analogy with classical mechanics allows one to obtain a plausible
theory of relativistic mechanics, and to see how the equivalence of mass and energy arises.
To be able to solve relativistic collision problems using both 4vectors and coordinate
methods.
Syllabus
1. The Law of Inertia
2. The Conservation of Momentum
3. The Speed of Light
4. Events in SpaceTime
5. Time: the fundamental fact
6. The Lorentz Transformations
7. The Velocity Transformation Formulae
8. Minkowski Space and 4Vectors
9. Relativistic Dynamics 1: Conservation of 4Momentum
10. Relativistic Dynamics 2: E = mc^{2}
11. Relativistic Dynamics 3: Photons
12. Plane Waves
Transferable Skills
Ability to use relativistic ideas in physical theories.
Ability to use 4vector methods.
Ability to see that conventional ideas are not always correct.
Reading list
Recommended:
W. Rindler,
Introduction to Special Relativity,
Oxford University Press.
L. Marder,
An Introduction to Relativity,
Background:
R. Katz,
An Introduction to the Special Theory of Relativity,
C Kacser,
Introduction to the Special Theory of Relativity,
T.M. Helliwell,
Introduction to Special Relativity,
A.P. French,
Special Relativity ,
R. Resnick,
Introduction to Special Relativity ,
N.D. Mermin,
Space and Time in Special Relativity ,
Details of Assessment
The final assessment of this module will consist of 20% coursework and 80% from the
one and a half hour examination in May/June. The coursework contribution will come
from weekly work. The examination paper will contain 4 questions with full marks
obtainable for solutions to any 3.
Next: MC224 Vector Calculus
Up: Year 2
Previous: MC222 Optimisation
S. J. Ambler
11/20/1999