Course Timetable: Fall 2012

Reading: Be = Begelman and Rees; Th = Thorne


Aug. 28

Overview/preview of the course and goals. You can find the preview here if you missed the class.


Aug. 30

Background material: Scientific notation - Unit conversion - The electromagnetic spectrum.
Newtonian Gravity - The Michelson-Morley Experiment
Lectures notes for the class: Basics.pdf
Reading: Th: Prologue


Sep. 4

Video from "The Mechanical Universe": Lecture 1.
Special relativity: Postulates and consequences: Relativity of Simultaneity - Time dilation.
Lecture notes for this and next class will be posted at the end of next class.
Reading: Th: Chapter 1.


Sep. 6

Special Relativity: Lorentz contraction - Relativity of Mass - Mass-Energy equivalence - Relativistic Light Aberration.
Lecture notes on Special Relativity: Special Relativity.pdf
Reading: Th: Chapter 1


Sep. 11

Concept of Spacetime - General Relativity: The Equivalence Principle - Gravitational Time Dilation.
Practice problems.
Lecture notes for this and for the class on 09/20 will be posted on 09/20.
Reading: Th: Chapter 2


Sep. 13

Test clicker questions.
Video from "The Mechanical Universe": Lectures 2 and 3.
Reading remains on Special Relativity: Th: Chapter 1 and lecture notes.


Sep. 18

 Project I


Sep. 20

General Relativity: Gravitational deflection of light - Curvature - Tides  - Geodesics.
Clicker questions.
Lecture notes on General Relativity: General Relativity.pdf
Reading: Th: Chapter 2 and lecture notes


Sep. 25

Experimental tests of General Relativity: Mercury's Precession - Gravitational Lensing and
Microlensing - Gravitational Redshift of atomic lines - Gravitational Waves and gravitational
wave detectors (LIGO) - Hulse-Taylor binary pulsar.
Clicker questions.
Lecture notes: General Relativity tests.pdf
Reading: Th: Chapter 10; Be: pag.89-91 and pag.198-205; lecture notes


Sep. 27

Black Holes: The Schwarzschild's solution - Voyage to a Black Holes - Tidal forces in Black Holes
of different masses.
Clicker questions.
Lecture notes: Black Holes.pdf
Reading: Th: Ch 3; Be: Ch 1


Oct. 2

Orbits in strongly curved spacetime - Kerr Black Holes - No Hair Theorem.
Practice problem.
Lecture notes: Kerr Black Holes.pdf
Reading: Th: Ch. 7; Be: Ch:8: pag. 193-198.


Oct. 4

Quantum Mechanics: Wave-particle duality - Uncertainty Principle - Bosons and Fermions - Pauli Principle and Degeneracy Pressure.
Clicker questions.
Lecture notes: Quantum Mechanics.pdf
Reading: Th: box pag. 147 and 373-374.; lecture notes
Topics to be covered in the upcoming test: review.pdf


Oct.  9

 Project II


Oct. 11

Thermodynamics of Black Holes: Area Theorem and Entropy of Black Holes -
Vacuum fluctuations and Hawking radiation - BH evaporation.
Lecture notes: BH Thermodynamics.pdf
Reading: Th: Ch: 12; Be: pag. 223-231


Oct. 16

Inside Black Holes - Penrose's Theorem and Pensorse's conjecture - Quantum foam.
Wormholes and Time Machines.
Clicker questions.
Lecture notes: Inside BHs and Wormholes.pdf
Reading: Th: Ch. 13 and 14.


Oct. 18

 Black Holes in popular movies: video clips from the movies: "Andromeda: Under the Night", "The Black Hole"
and "Contact", followed by discussion and clicker questions.


Oct. 23

How stars live and die: White Dwarfs - Neutron Stars - Black Holes.
Clicker questions.
Lecture notes: Stars and their remnants.pdf
Reading: Be: Ch.2, Th: Ch.4


Oct 25

Project III


Oct 30

Fiske Planetarium: show on “The Milky Way: a City of Stars”. Hosted by Tito Salas.


Nov. 1

Hunting for Black Holes in our Galaxy: Black Holes in X-ray Binaries - Accretion Disks
Lecture notes: Binaries.pdf
Reading: Be: Ch. 3 (pag. 50-65 and 72-73); Th: Ch. 8


Nov. 6

Supermassive Black Holes: Quasars - Jets - The quiescent black hole at the center
of the Milky Way.
Lecture notes (for this class and the beginning of next one): Supermassive Black Holes.pdf
Reading: Be: Ch.3 (pag.69-70) and Ch. 5, 6, 7; Th: Ch:8.


Nov. 8

Maser and the discovery of supermassive Black Holes at the center of nearby galaxies.
Witnessing the birth of a new black holes in the Universe: Gamma-Ray Bursts.
Lecture notes: Gamma-Ray Bursts.pdf
Reading: Be: pag.65-71 and lecture notes.


Nov. 13

Fiske Planetarium: show on Supernovae hosted by Prof. D. McCray (or Video: "Black Holes: the ultimate abyss" on the 15th and the Universe on the 13th)


Nov. 15

The Universe: solutions to Einstein's equations for a homogeneous and isotropic Universe -
Bing Bang and Inflation Theory - Cosmic Microwave Background - Formation of large
scale structure - the fate of the Universe.
Lecture notes: Universe.pdf
Reading: lecture notes.

Nov. 20

Fall Break

Nov. 22



Nov. 27

Guest lecture by W. Cash on MAXIM


Nov. 29

Project IV


Dec. 4

General review of the course


Dec. 6

Guest lecture I by A. Hamilton


Dec. 11

Guest lecture II by A. Hamilton.


Dec. 13

Practice questions for the final exam. Remember to bring your clicker.


  FINAL EXAM: Sat, Dec 15, 4:30-7pm,  in G125



course update


time table