Fall 2020

General Relativity

Listed in: Physics and Astronomy, as PHYS-460


William A. Loinaz (Section 01)


The course is an elementary introduction to Einstein's theory of gravity and modern cosmology. After a brief review of the special theory of relativity, we will investigate vector and tensor fields in terms of their properties under changes of coordinates. We will study geometric ideas such as geodesics, parallel transport, and covariant differentiation, and present the Principle of Equivalence as the central physical principle behind Einstein's theory of gravity. After introducing the stress tensor, we will state the field equations and obtain the simplest solutions to them, and derive the physical implications of the theory for the motion of planets and light in the vicinity of massive stars. We will then discuss modern cosmology, including an introduction to the particle physics needed to describe the thermal history of the universe just after the Big Bang.

Requisite: PHYS 225 and MATH 211; or consent of the instructor. Fall Semester: William Loinaz

For Spring 2021: This course will be taught in a hybrid format using both asynchronous and synchronous lectures and group work.  The course will meet in-person as health and safety considerations permit. 


Quantitative Reasoning


2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2018, Fall 2020