Fall, 2020

Additional asynchronous material will be posted here.

Due to the shortened pandemic semester, two additional class meetings and additional asynchronous material will be scheduled in coordination with the class.

Office hours:
Whenever you have a question about the course material, feel free to
email to set up a remote Zoom meeting.

Course website: http://physics.wm.edu/~erlich/786F20

Instructor: Josh Erlich, Small Hall 332B,
757-221-3763,
erlich@physics.wm.edu

Note that I will likely be home most days this semester due to the pandemic.

Prerequisites: Familiarity with classical mechanics and electromagnetism at the advanced undergraduate/intro graduate level will be assumed.

This is a course on Einstein's theory of gravitation and cosmology, including the classic tests and consequences of the theory. The course will compare the field-theoretic and geometric viewpoints of the subject, and time permitting will include an introduction to quantum fields in curved spacetime and discussion of the challenges facing quantum gravity.

- The meaning of inertia
- Newtonian gravity
- The equivalence principle(s)
- Gravitation as a field theory
- Gravitation as geometry

- Bending of light
- Orbital precession
- Gravitational redshift
- Shapiro time delay

- Gravitational radiation
- Black holes
- Stars - neutron stars, white dwarfs, Chandrasekhar limit
- Cosmology - big bang, Friedmann-Robertson-Walker cosmology, inflation

- Quantum field theory in curved spacetime, black hole thermodynamics
- Quantum gravity - Hamiltonian constraint, Wheeler-DeWitt equation, survey of modern approaches
- Puzzles of relativity - Problem of time, the hole argument, diffeomorphism-invariant observables

- Problem sets (70%)
- Paper (15%)
- Presentation (15%)
- A 92-100. A- 88-91, B+ 84-87, B 80-83, B- 75-79, C+ 71-74, C 67-70, C- 62-66, D+ 58-81, D 54-57, D- 50-53, F <50

There is no required textbook. The instructor's notes will be made available at the course website with each class. The official recommended texts are Weinberg's book and the Feynman lectures, both excellent references despite their age, with insights that make those books unique.*Text:**Recommended texts:*- S. Weinberg,
*Gravitation and Cosmology* - R. Feynman, F. Morinigo, W. Wagner,
*Feynman Lectures on Gravitation* - S. Carroll,
*Spacetime and Geometry* - R. Wald,
*General Relativity* - A. Zee,
*Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell* - L.D. Landau and E.M. Lifshitz,
*The Classical Theory of Fields* - S. Dodelson,
*Modern Cosmology*

- S. Weinberg,

**Lecture Notes**

**Problem Sets**

Problem Set 1, due Wednesday, September 9.

Problem Set 2, due Wednesday, September 16.

Problem Set 3, due Wednesday, September 23.

Problem Set 4, due Wednesday, September 30.

Problem Set 5, due Wednesday, October 7.

Problem Set 6, due Wednesday, October 14.

Problem Set 7, due Wednesday, October 21.

Problem Set 8, due *Monday*, November 2.

Problem Set 9, due Wednesday, November 11.

__ Supplementary Material__ - Material will be added as we uncover new topics during the course.

Tensors: a guide for undergraduate students. Open access version here.

In case you are interested in the history of the covariant formulation of electrodynamics, I believe the earliest reference is this text by Minkowski, which is translated to English along with works by Einsten here.

Einstein's

Deser's 1970 discussion of spin-2 fields vs GR is available reprinted here.

Deser's 2009 discussion of spin-2 fields vs GR is available here.

Padmanabhan's 2004 objections to this approach are presented here.

Daniel Baumann's TASI Lectures on Inflation.

Martin Bauer and Tilman Plehn's Yet another introduction to dark matter. Pardon the coffee stain.