Spring 2023 - PHYS 313 D100

Special Relativity (3)

Class Number: 2825

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Mon, Wed, Fri, 4:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 18, 2023
    Tue, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

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


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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:


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