The special relativity lectures have been divided into 14 modules, listed below, each with a title and a brief description of its content. It is recommended that these be viewed in the order listed, as each module builds on concepts introduced in previous modules. Clicking on the titles below will reveal an active link to the recorded lecture segment that includes a list of key learning outcomes.
An introduction to spacetime diagrams – a first step towards understanding Einstein’s special theory of relativity.
Drawing spacetime diagrams of simple thought experiments involving sound in air as a warm up exercise for light in vacuum.
Continuation of a thought experiment from SR-2, leading up to a derivation of the familiar Doppler shift for sound in air.
Repeating the experiment from SR-3 using light rather than sound, and understanding what Einstein assumed regarding the speed of light.
Einstein’s Relativity Principle applies to both mechanical and electromagnetic phenomena.
Deriving the Doppler shift for light, from which all of special relativity follows.
Space obeys the rules of Euclidean geometry. Spacetime obeys the rules of a new kind of geometry, called Minkoskian geometry.
Learning to use Minkowskian geometry to understand, very simply, a variety of aspects of Einstein's spacetime. including how a light particle experiences space and time during its journey from one place to another.
A discussion of how to synchronize clocks that are separated in space, and how this leads to the relativity of simultaneity.
A discussion of the space and time axes of a moving observer and an introduction to length contraction.
A continuation of the SR-10 discussion on length contraction. Resolving Principle 2*.
Introduction to Einstein's famous rotating disk thought experiment, which he used to help him understand the true nature of gravity.
Analyzing the artificial gravitational field inside a rotating cylinder to discover hints about the nature of real gravitational fields.
The spacetime diagram of a rotating Bob is analyzed, leading us to conclude that his spatial geometry is curved.
About the Lecturer
Richard Epp has a Masters degree in electrical engineering and a PhD degree in theoretical physics from the University of Manitoba, Canada, and has held postdoctoral research positions around the world working in general relativity (Einstein's theory of space, time, and gravity). With both an engineering and a theoretical physics background, Dr. Epp is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the entire spectrum of physics, from curiosity-driven research in quantum gravity to the applied physics of how a cell phone works. He has extensive outreach experience, having developed many of PI's outreach initiatives - including the ISSYP - and immensely enjoys introducing people of all ages to the mysteries and wonders of our amazing universe.