PCC-22803 Theory of Relativity


Studiepunten 3.00

Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. PA Barneveld
Lecturer(s)dr. B Bera
dr. ir. PA Barneveld
Examiner(s)dr. ir. PA Barneveld

Language of instruction:

NL and/or EN


The lecture series starts with the Galilean relativity and the concept of inertial reference frames. The historical context is given that led to the development of the special theory of relativity (Maxwell equations not being consistent with Galilean transformations, luminiferous ether, Michelson-Morley experiment) . Starting with the postulates by Einstein the special theory of relativity is set up on the basis of thought-experiments. Insight in, and acceptation of, apparent impossibilities are the central theme of the lectures. The special theory of relativity is not presented as a mathematical algorithm, but still insight is tested by solving numerical problems. The concepts of time dilation, Lorentz contraction, relativity of simultaneity, Lorentz transformation, Doppler shift and E=mc2 are addressed. In addition, some excursions to cosmology and astronomy are undertaken. The course concludes with in introduction to the concepts of general theory of relativity (Principle of Relativity, gravitational redshift, gravitational lensing and the behaviour of clocks in a gravitational field).

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- remember and use definitions and terms from the theory of relativity;
- apply Galilean transformations to objects running at constant speed;
- apply the transformation rules of Special Relativity to objects running at constant speed;
- explain whether or not events can have a causal relationship and find a frame where two events take place either at the same time or at the same place;
- interpret a Minkovski diagram to find relativistic data of an object running at constant speed;
- use the Principle of Relativity to explain gravitational redshift, gravitational lensing and/or the phenomenon that clocks run slow in a gravitational field.


- instruction lectures;
- exercises during lectures;
- assignments.


Written examination with open and/or multiple choice questions.


Einstein's paper from 1905.
Additional handouts.
PowerPoint presentations.

Keuze voor: BMLMolecular Life SciencesBSc1MO
MMLMolecular Life SciencesMSc4AF