blackboard pix
Link to resources link to students links to gr-qc link to courses link to publications
spacetime diagram

General Relativity

Spring 2018

"... until at last it came to me that time was suspect!" - A. Einstein (Shankland interview 1950)

"... the concept of time is nothing more than a convenient, although potentially treacherous, device for summarizing compactly all the relationships holding between clocks." - N. D. Mermin It's About Time

"Grossmann is getting his doctorate on a topic that is connected with fiddling around and non-Euclidean geometry. I don't know exactly what it is."
- A. Einstein to Mileva Maric, 1902

"We should take comfort in two conjoined features of nature: first, that our world is incredibly strange and therefore supremely fascinating. . . second, that however bizarre and arcane our world might be, nature remains comprehensible to the human mind." - Stephen Jay Gould

Instructor: Seth Major, smajor, x4919, Sci G064

Office Hours:
Wednesday 2 - 5:00 PM.

Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday 10:30-11:45 in Sci Ctr G047
Text: Bernard Schutz, A First Course in General Relativity, 2nd edition


Cygus-A in X-ray



I have posted problem set 7, due April 12. You may take an extension to Tuesday April 17 (tax day!). This is because of the exams in e&m and differential geometry.

I have also posted a list of possible presentations.

Course Info and Documents (pdf):

Course Syllabus

Problem Sets (pdf):


Problem Set 1
Problem Set 2
Problem Set 3
Problem Set 4
Problem Set 5
Problem Set 6
Problem Set 7


  • A listing (pdf) of possible presentation topics.
  • SR: A translation of "Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", Einstein's original 1905 paper on special relativity. Here's a pdf (1.9 MB) of the original article in German pubished in Annalen der Physik.
  • SR: Beautiful animations of the apparent geometry of relativistic moving objects. The dice and the ride down Marktgasse in Tuebingen are particularly good. Note, however, that redshift is not accounted for.
  • GR: An applet displaying parallel transport on a sphere. This uses Java.
  • GR: A link to the paper (pdf) by Baez and Bunn on the meaning of the Einstein equations. (For an older published version see Amer. Jour. Phys. 73 (2005) 644-652.
  • GR: About the stunning visualizations of black holes in Interstellar.
  • GR: Wee, light comes! Lillie found this link to some visualizations, including of the warp drive light cone structure.
  • GR: Here's the html version of the "einstein.nb" Mathematica notebook.
  • GR: A link to Hartle's Mathematica notebook files.
  • Additional Reading:

    • Jim Hartle, Gravity: An Introduction to Einsetin's General Relativity
    • Dan Styer, Relativity for the Questioning Mind
    • Kip Thorne, The Science of Interstellar
    • Kip Thorne, Black Holes, Warp Drives, and Einstein's Outrageous Leagacy
    • Dennis Overbye, Einstein in Love (A wonderful ``1st half" biography of Einstein. It ends in 1915.)
    • Abraham Pais, Subtile is the Lord (A full biography of Einstein with a careful treatment of the science.)
    • Paul Krugman's The Theory of Intersellar Trade written many years ago.

    Last modified 10 April 2018
    Link to Seth's Net Home Link to Department of Physics link to archives link to gr-qc link to gr-qc/new link to archive form