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The Special Theory of Relativity

The special theory of relativity is among the most beautiful and fascinating topics in physics. Its basic concepts are simple and accessible yet counter-intuitive and deep. It is also a remarkable illustration of that common theme in the study of natural laws - how much follows from a few fundamental physical postulates.

Special Relativity is essential for studying all high energy natural phenomena. Its historic roots lie in Mechanics and Electromagnetism but it is also the foundation essential for many areas of modern physics including Quantum Field Theory, Particle Physics, Cosmology and Astrophysics. It is the essential stepping stone to understanding the general theory of relativity - Einstein’s relativistic theory of gravitation superseding newtonian gravity.

In this course we will start from the very basics and after a detailed study of relativistic mechanics and electrodynamics, will at the end go into various related topical themes from quantum mechanics, optics, astrophysics, thermodynamics and hydrodynamics.

Prerequisites: The essential prerequisites for this course are the CM and EM physics core courses in semester 3. For a few topics towards the end, knowledge of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics would be required.

Level: 4000/3000

Recommended Reading:

Special Relativity, R. Resnick
Special Relativity, A.P. French

Spacetime Physics, E. Taylor and J. Wheeler.
Introduction to Special Relativity, H. Schwartz

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka