General Relativity

We begin by introducing tensors in non-relativistic physics. We then give an overview of Special Relativity, and discuss the special nature of gravity as an “inertial force”. With this motivation, we develop the differential geometry necessary to describe curved spacetime and the geodesic motion of free-falling particles. We then proceed to Einstein’s field equations, which we analyze in the Newtonian limit and in the linearized limit (gravitational waves). Finally, we study two iconic solutions to the field equations: the Schwarzschild black hole and Friedman-Robertson-Walker cosmology. We will use Sean Carroll’s textbook as the main reference, but we will not follow it strictly.

This is an alternating years course.

Prerequisites or Prior Knowledge

Maxwell’s equations in differential form. Solving Maxwell’s equations to obtain electromagnetic waves. Linear algebra of vectors and matrices.