AST231 -- Gravitation and General Relativity

Fall 2016

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 12:45-2:15pm

TA:     Hongzhe Zhou, Bausch &Lomb

     Office Hours/Problem Session: Friday. 11am-12:30pm Room TBA


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

Two other books of interest, also on reserve in PoA Library:

"Introduction to General Relativity" (Bernard Schutz)

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


The approximate syllabus and order of topics to be covered is below: (Subject to change as course proceeds.)

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

16. Observational Cosmology

17. Cosmological Models


Homework problem sets. (sets 20%)

EXAM 1 (40%) will be a 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 25 and due Oct 27th.

EXAM 2 (40%) is a 3 HOUR FINAL EXAM during exam period; You can use the course book and course notes during the final.


Problem Sets:

All Homework to be turned into the course locker next to Room B&L 104 by 6pm on the due date shown.


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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