Physics 139

Special and General Relativity for Undergraduates

Spring, 2010

University of California, Berkeley

Instructor:  Robert Littlejohn
Office:  449 Birge
Office Hours:   F 1-2
Reader:  Nadir

Lecture:  385 LeConte
Time:  TuTh 2-3:30
Discussion Section: Th 4-5, 6 Evans
Text:   Hartle, Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity Addison-Wesley

Organization and Logistics

The email address for this course is   If you wish to be included on the mailing list for course announcements, homework notices, etc., send an email to this address with your name.   (You don't have to be enrolled.)  If you drop the course or don't want to receive any more announcements, send an email to this address with a request to be dropped. 

The course web site (this site) will be used to post lecture notes, special notes and homework assignments.

The grade will be based on weekly homework and a final exam. I leave open the possibility that there will be an oral exam instead of a written; it depends on the enrollment, and I will let you know by the beginning of April. 

Prerequisites include Physics 105 and 110A. If you do not have taken these prerequisites, you must have instructor's permission to enroll for this course.  

The course catalog describes this course as an introduction to special and general relativity. Special relativity is taught in Physics 110B, but that is not a prerequisite for this course. Therefore I will not assume that you know special relativity before taking this course, and will devote the first part of the course to special relativity. In the second half we will take up general relativity. Hartle's book will be more useful for the second half. If you are already an expert on special relativity and want to learn general relativity, you might consider the graduate course (Physics 231).

Lecture notes are my handwritten notes that I prepare for lecture.  I don't guarantee that they will be identical to what is presented in class, but they should be pretty close usually, so you can probably do without taking notes in class if you want to download these.  These notes are available in pdf format only.

Lecture Notes.

Homework assignments will normally be made available on this web site by Friday of each week, and will be due one week later, Friday at 5pm sharp, in the envelope outside my office (449 Birge).   Policy on Late Homework: Late homeworks will be accepted at 50% credit, up to one week late. Homeworks more than one week late will not be accepted.   Exception: Each student is allowed one free late homework (up to one week late), no questions asked. Please do not ask the reader to accept late homeworks. Just put them in the envelope; they will be processed when the reader can get to them.

Supplemental Notes.