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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

James M Bardeen
PHYS 564
Seattle Campus

General Relativity

First of a two-part sequence. General covariance and tensor analysis, the relativistic theory of gravitation as given by Einstein's field equations, experimental tests and their significance, and applications of general relativity, particularly in the areas of astrophysics and cosmology. Prerequisite: PHYS 515.

Class description

Physics 564 is an introduction to the theory of General Relativity, Einstein's theory of gravity. The course will cover the mathematical description of curved spacetimes, the physical motivation behind the Einstein equations, and their application to properties of relativistic stars, black holes, gravitational waves, and other aspects of gravitation physics.

Student learning goals

Appreciate the compelling rationale for Einsteins's theory, and its conceptual eleganc.

Gain a basic facility with the mathematics of curved spacetimes and the ability to do calculations for relatively simple problems.

Understand the weak field limit under which Einstein's theory becomes Newton's theory.

Understand the basic properties of black holes, primarily through an analysis of the spherically symmetric Schwarzschild metric, and how they are formed by gravitational collapse.

Understand how gravitational waves propagate and can be detected in the context of linearized theory, and a little about how they are generated.

General method of instruction

Lecture/Discussion

Recommended preparation

Physics 513-515, Electromagnetism, or the equivalent. A good basic understanding of special relativity is assumed.

Class assignments and grading

Weekly homework assignments, which will be graded.

Grades will be based 30% on the homework, 25% on the midterm, and 45% on the final.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by James M Bardeen
Date: 12/30/2009