Einstein's General Theory of Relativity represents a pinnacle of modern physics, providing the most accurate description of the action of gravity across the cosmos. To Newton, gravity was simply a force between masses, but Einstein's mathematical language describes gravity in terms of the bending and stretching of space-time. In this course, students will review Einstein's principle of relativity, and the mathematical form of special relativity, and the flat space-time this implies. This will be expanded and generalised to consider Einstein's principle of equivalence and the implications for particle and photon motion with curved space-time. Students will explore the observational consequences of general relativity in several space-time metrics, in particular the Schwarzschild black hole, the Morris-Thorne wormhole, and the Alcubierre warp drive, elucidating the nature of the observer in determining physical quantities. Building on this knowledge, students will understand Einstein's motivation in determining the field equations, relating the distribution of mass and energy to the properties of space-time. Students will apply the field equations, including deriving the cosmological Friedmann-Robertson-Walker metric from the assumption of constant curvature, and using this to determine the universal expansion history and key observables. Students will obtain a complete picture of our modern cosmological model, understanding the constituents of the universe, the need for inflation in the earliest epochs, and the ultimate fate of the cosmos.
lectorial (integrated lecture and tutorial) 4 hrs/week for 8 weeks (total 30 hours)
2 x quizzes (10%), 3 x written assignments (30%), final exam (60%)
A major in physics and knowledge of special relativity
An average of at least 65 in 144 cp of units