Advanced Topics in Physics: Special Relativity
- Grade 9+
- Science and Engineering
If a woman travels to a nearby star system at close to the speed of light, she will return much younger than her twin sister, who stayed home. This is just one of the discoveries revealed by Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, which revolutionized physics. Perhaps the most famous equation in science, E = mc2, revealed that matter and energy are equivalent, setting the stage for atomic bombs and nuclear power plants. It showed that an object’s length depends on its speed relative to an observer, that the passage of time depends on relative motion, and that an object’s mass varies with speed. This course explores the problems and inadequacies of Newtonian mechanics, then shifts focus to Einstein’s groundbreaking solution, the Special Theory of Relativity. Through class discussions and extensive problem solving, you’ll learn about the principle of relativity and the light postulate, simultaneity, relativistic kinematic and dynamic calculations, light cones, k-calculus, and Minkowski space, and explore mathematical concepts underlying Einstein’s general theory of relativity and how they can help us understand the universe.
Typical Class Size: 18-20
- Solve problems using theoretical and mathematical pre-relativistic frameworks and experiments to reconcile mechanics and electromagnetism
- Apply processes such as dilation, contraction, and simultaneity to produce conceptual and quantitative explanations of the implications of special relativity on the speed of light and the interrelatedness between speed, space, time, and mass
- Justify the principles of special relativity by solving problems in relativistic mechanics and electromagnetism
Summer Dates & Locations
Testing and Prerequisites
|Required Level||CTY-Level||Not required|
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Course PrerequisitesAdvanced Topics in Physics: Special Relativity requires:
Algebra II and trigonometry, and either CTY’s Fast-Paced High School Physics or at least a B in conceptual physics or high school physics
Cost and Financial Aid
- Nonrefundable Application Fee - $50 (Waived for financial aid applicants)
- Nonrefundable International Fee - $250 (outside US only)
Financial Aid is available
We are committed to serving all talented youth regardless of financial circumstances. Financial assistance is available based on need.
Please acquire all course materials by the course start date, unless noted as perishable. Items marked as “perishable” should not be acquired until the student needs them in the course. If you have questions about these materials or difficulty locating them, please contact [email protected].
These titles have been featured in past sessions of the course, and may be included this summer. CTY provides students with all texts; no purchase is required.
- Spacetime Physics, Edwin F. Taylor and John Archibald Wheeler
Students must bring a tablet, laptop computer, or Chromebook for use during the session. A smartphone will not be sufficient.
About Science and Engineering at CTY
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