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PX148 - Classical Mechanics & Special Relativity

  • Module code: PX148
  • Module name: Classical Mechanics & Special Relativity
  • Department: Physics
  • Credit: 12

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

To revise A-level classical mechanics and to develop the theory using vector notation and calculus. To introduce special relativity. To cover material required for future physics modules.

Principal learning outcomes

At the end of the module, you should: be able to solve F =d p /dt for a variety of simple cases; Familiar with the concepts of potential and kinetic energy; Able to recognise and solve the equations of forced and damped harmonic motion; Able to solve problems involving torque and angular momentum; Able to explain the transformation between inertial frames of reference (Lorentz transformation) and to work through illustrative problems.

Timetabled teaching activities

30 Lectures + 10 problems classes

Departmental link

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/physics/teach/syllabi/year1/px148

Other essential notes

This module starts with Newtonian mechanics. It emphasises the conservation laws inherent in the theory. These have a wider domain of applicability than classical mechanics (for example they also apply in quantum mechanics). It also looks at the classical mechanics of oscillations and of rotating bodies. The second half of the module looks at relativity. While massive bodies always move relative to each other, light appears to move relative to nothing at all. Einstein realised that Newtonian mechanics was the problem. He proposed that the laws of classical mechanics had to be consistent with just two postulates, namely that the speed of light is a constant and that all frames of reference are equivalent. These postulates forced Einstein to reject previous ideas of space and time and led directly to the special theory of relativity. The module covers some of the consequences of Einstein's theory for classical mechanics and some of the predictions it makes, including: the relation between mass and energy, length-contraction, time-dilation and the twin paradox.

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
12 CATS (Module code: PX148-12)
B (Examination only) 2 hour examination (Summer) 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:

Core
  • Undergraduate Physics (BSc) (F300) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Physics (MPhys) (F303) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Physics (BSc MPhys) (F304) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Physics and Business Studies (F3N1) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (MMathPhys) (FG31) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc MMathPhys) (FG33) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Physics (BSc) (GF13) - Year 1
Optional Core

N/A

Optional
  • Undergraduate Mathematics (BSc) (G100) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics with Intercalated Year (G101) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath) (G103) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics (MMath) with Study in Europe (G106) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics (BSc MMathStat) (G1G3) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Business Studies (with Intercalated Year) (G1N2) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Business Studies (G1NC) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Master of Mathematics,Operational Research,Statistics and Economics (G300) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics (BSc) (GG14) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Economics (GL11) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Economics (with Intercalated Year) (GL12) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Philosophy (GV17) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Philosophy with Intercalated Year (GV18) - Year 1
  • Undergraduate Mathematics,Operational Research,Statistics and Economics (Y602) - Year 1