Spring 2022 - PHYS 313 D100

Special Relativity (3)

Class Number: 5930

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We, Fr 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5005, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PHYS 121 or 126 or 141 (or PHYS 102 with a minimum grade of B); MATH 232 or 240, with a minimum grade of C-.



A detailed presentation of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and how it revolutionized physics. Topics covered include: constancy of the speed of light, Lorentz transformations, time dilation, length contraction, relativistic paradoxes, space-time diagrams, relativistic particle kinematics and dynamics, electromagnetism as a relativistic phenomenon, and an introduction to general relativity. Quantitative.


COURSE OUTLINE (approximate):

Section 1: Galilean relativity.
         Introduction; ideas of space and time; Galilean transformation

Section 2: Special relativity.
         Lorentz transformation; length contraction; time dilation, spacetime diagrams

Section 3: Experimental tests of special relativity.
         Muon decay; Michelson-Morley experiment, red-shift, Fizeau

Section 4: Relativistic kinematics.
         Velocity and acceleration; relativistic Doppler effect; stellar aberration

Section 5: Relativistic particle dynamics.
Relativistic-vectors; energy and momenta; dynamics; relativistic scattering; forces and acceleration, the Rindler spacetime, particle accelerators.

Section 6: Electromagnetism as a relativistic phenomenon.
        Relativistic relationship between electricity and magnetism.

Section 7: Other topics time permitting.
                Optional topics depending on student and instructor interest as time permits.



TEXTBOOKS (recommended, none required, in no particular order):

Special Relativity For Beginners: A Textbook For Undergraduates
Jurgen Freund, World Scientific Publishing (April 8 2008).

Special Relativity
Thomas M Helliwell, Univ Science Books (2009).

Special Relativity
Valerio Faraoni, Springer (Aug. 13 2013).

The Special Theory of Relativity: Foundations, Theory, Verification, Applications
Costas Christodoulides, Springer (2016).

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students who cannot write their exam during the course's scheduled exam time must request accommodation from their instructor in writing, clearly stating the reason for this request, within one week of the final exam schedule being posted.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.