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syllabus - University of Alabama in Huntsville Department...

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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 : [email protected] 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.
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