29:039 First Year Seminar: Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Instructor: Professor Mary Hall Reno.

Mary Hall Reno's research focuses on elementary particle interactions at high energies. Her work includes calculations relevant to experiments at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector Array. She is active in the Women in Science and Engineering program. Professor Reno's WWW page is http://www-hep.physics.uiowa.edu/~reno.

Course Description:

Einstein's theory of relativity is famous - but it is not even dimly understood by most Americans. This seminar focuses primarily on Einstein's "special theory of relativity." Although no prior experience in physics is needed, by the end of the semester you will have learned about reference frames, the relativity of simultaneity, time dilation, lenght contractions and the meaing of E=mc². The "general theory fo relativity" will also be explored, if time permits. Because relativity is not a topic about which we have a strong intuitive understanding,the seminar will include two "hands-on" activities using the physics department's labs and computer room. There will be weekly readings and problems to help understand the readings.

Skill in mathematics through trigonometry will be assumed.

Grades will be based on class participation, including a short presentation, and a short paper.