AST231 -- Gravitation and General Relativity

Fall 2018

This course will provide an introduction to classical general relativity, a generalized theory of gravity that reduces to Newtonian gravity is the weak gravity limit. The course will emphasize both analytic calculation and physical understanding.

Class Hours: Tues and Thurs 11:05 - 12:20 B&L 270

Prof:     Eric Blackman, Bausch &Lomb 417,

     Office Hours: Thurs 2:30-4pm

TA:     Tathagata Karmakar, Bausch &Lomb  email: tkarmaka@UR.Rochester.eduu

     Office Hours/Problem Session: Friday. 2pm-3:30pm Room: BL 480


The required course textbook is: "Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity" James B. Hartle.

Two other recomended books of interest, also on reserve at POA library:

"Introduction to General Relativity" (Bernard Schutz)

"Introducing Einstein's Relativity" (Ray d'Inverno)


Part A: CORE MATERIAL (CHAPS. 1-9, most of the course):

1. Introduction: Gravitational Physics and Geometry as Physics

2. Space, Time and Gravity in Newtonian Gravity

3: Concepts of Special Relativity

4. Dynamics in Special Relativity

5. Gravity as Geometry

6. Characterizing Curved Spacetime

7. Geodesics

8. Geometry outside a Spherical Star

9. Tests of General Relativity in the Solar System


10. Astrophysical Examples of General Relativistic Dynamics

11. Gravitational Collapse and Black Holes

12. Astrophyscial Black Holes

13. Rotation in General Relativity

14. Rotating Black Holes

15. Gravitational Waves and Binary Mergers

16. Observational Cosmology

17. Cosmological Models


6 or 7 Problem Sets (20% of grade)

EXAM 1 (40% of grade): TAKE HOME EXAM. The exam will be open book and open notes but NO INTERACTION (VERBAL, WRITTEN, INTERNET, SIGN LANGUAGE, etc) WITH OTHER LIVING PEOPLE on the contents of the exam is allowed. It will be handed out Oct 30th and due Nov 1st.

EXAM 2 (40%) a 3 HOUR FINAL EXAM (DEC 20, 4pm in our classroom BL270); You can use the course book and course notes during the final.


Problem Sets:

All Homework to be turned into the course locker near Bausch and Lomb 106 at 6pm on the due date supplied.. Problem sets and due date will be supplied by email, and generally will be assigned biweekly and due on Fridays.


Supplementary Material:

Supplement on Twin Paradox showing why there is no ambiguity in considering the problem from either twin's rest frame.

Supplement on Index Notation, Basis Vectors and Equation 5.83 of Textbook



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