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PX109 Relativity

Lecturer: Mark Newton

Weighting: 6 CATS


The module should lead to an appreciation of the beauty and simplicity of Einstein's special theory of relativity. You should understand the concept of space-time, the importance of causality and how special relativity affects position, time, velocity, momentum, force and energy.

At the end of the module, you should

  • Be able to differentiate between Galilean and Lorentz transformation laws
  • Be able to use the Lorentz transformation and the equivalence between mass and energy in simple calculations
  • Be able to use Minkowski diagrams to plot world lines and relate events


The Velocity of Light

  • Galilean Transformation of Velocities
  • The ether
  • The Michelson Morley experiment
  • Fitzgerald/Lorentz contraction

Einstein's postulates: Lorentz transformation, Inverse Lorentz transformation

Length Contraction - Proper length, Comparison with Fitzgerald/Lorentz

Time Dilation - Proper Time

Einstein Principles of Relativity




Minkovsky diagrams - graphical representation of past/present/future.

Commitment: 15 Lectures + 5 problems classes

Assessment: 1 hour examination

Recommended Text: H D Young and R A Freedman, University Physics, Pearson.

Leads from: A level Physics and Mathematics