University of Alabama in Huntsville
Department of Physics
Fall 2010
PH 251: Introduction to Special Relativity
Time
:
F 12:40 – 1:35 pm
Venue
:
MSC 106
Instructor
:
Lior Burko
Phone
:
824-2934
Email
:
burko@uah.edu
Office
:
OB 210
Office hours
:
F 11:30 – 12:30 pm
Course’s website
:
http://gravity.uah.edu/courses/PH251/index.htm
Success Center
: Further help is available at the
Success Center
. Please check for opening
hours. For help with homework problems, seek Success Center help before the
instructor’s.
Computers
are available in the
Physics Computer Lab
, OB 249, and in other computer
labs on campus.
Prerequisites
: PH 111, MA 172. Prerequisite with concurrency
: PH 113.
Course objectives
: At the conclusion of the course, students will have a general
introduction to special relativity as the unifying principle that makes the rest of physics
make sense, and which is almost inevitable: the universe almost has to be like that. The
student will be ready to take more advanced courses on relativity (e.g., PH 474:
Introduction to General Relativity) and on specific physical theories for which relativity
is crucial, e.g., electromagnetism, quantum field theory
Textbook
: T.A. Moore,
Six Ideas that Shaped Physics, Unit R: The Laws of Physics are
Frame Independent
, 2
nd
edition (McGraw Hill, 2003), ISBN: 0-07-239714-4. You are
required to read the textbook.
Effective reading is an active one
!
There are other books that would make good supplementary additional reading. E.g.,
Spacetime Physics,
2
nd
edition, by Taylor and Wheeler (same approach as our textbook,
but with many more examples, but a little verbose). The book
Special Relativity
by
Schwartz and Schwartz is written by one of the leaders of string theory, and introduces
special relativity in a form likeable by string theorists, including many modern
applications.
There are also many popular level books that present special relativity without
mathematical detail, but which include great verbal descriptions. E.g., the recent books
by Wolfson and by Mermin. These are fun reads, and although non-mathematical they
are quite profound. Students may often benefit significantly from reading them.