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Course, academic year 2022/2023
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Special Theory of Relativity - NOFY023
Title: Speciální teorie relativity
Guaranteed by: Laboratory of General Physics Education (32-KVOF)
Faculty: Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
Actual: from 2021
Semester: winter
E-Credits: 3
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:2/0, Ex [HT]
Capacity: unlimited
Min. number of students: unlimited
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: taught
Language: Czech
Teaching methods: full-time
Additional information:
Guarantor: doc. RNDr. Oldřich Semerák, DSc.
RNDr. Otakar Svítek, Ph.D.
prof. RNDr. Pavel Krtouš, Ph.D.
Classification: Physics > General Subjects
Annotation -
Last update: T_UTF (17.04.2009)
Experimental basis and starting principles of the special theory of relativity, their immediate implications and Lorentz transformation. Minkowski spacetime, tensorial form of physical laws. Relativistic mechanics. Relativistic electrodynamics in vacuum. Appearance of objects in special relativity. Variational principles. For the 2nd year of physics studies (F).
Aim of the course -
Last update: T_KVOF (28.03.2008)

Experimental basis and starting principles of the special theory of relativity. Lorentz transformation and its immediate implications. Minkowski spacetime, tensors. Relativistic mechanics. Relativistic electrodynamics in a vacuum. Appearance of objects in special relativity. Variational principles and Lagrange equations. Energy-momentum tensor and conservation laws.

Course completion requirements - Czech
Last update: doc. RNDr. Helena Valentová, Ph.D. (13.06.2019)

Ústní zkouška.

Literature - Czech
Last update: prof. RNDr. Pavel Krtouš, Ph.D. (25.09.2018)
  • Votruba V.: Základy speciální teorie relativity (Academia, Praha 1969)
  • Horský J.: Speciální teorie relativity (SPN, Praha 1972)
  • Horský J., Novotný J., Štefaník M.: Mechanika ve fyzice (Academia, Praha 2001)
  • Kvasnica J.: Teorie elektromagnetického pole (Academia, Praha 1985)
  • Taylor E. F., Wheeler J. A.: Spacetime Physics, (Freeman, San Francisco 1992)
  • Misner C. W., Thorne K. S., Wheeler J. A.: Gravitation (Freeman, San Francisco 1973)

Teaching methods - Czech
Last update: T_KVOF (28.03.2008)


Requirements to the exam - Czech
Last update: doc. RNDr. Oldřich Semerák, DSc. (06.10.2017)

Zkouška je ústní, požadavky odpovídají sylabu, v detailech pak tomu, co bylo během semestru odpřednášeno.

Syllabus -
Last update: T_UTF (17.04.2009)
Introduction, starting principles
Special theory of relativity in physical picture of the world. A way to special theory of relativity from Newtonian mechanics via the theory of electromagnetic field. Basic experiments. 1st Newton law, principle of special relativity, principle of constant velocity of light.

Immediate implications of the starting principles, Lorentz transformation
Synchronisation of clocks, relativity of simultaneity, length contraction and time dilation. (Special) Lorentz transformation; transformation of velocity. "Paradoxes" in special relativity. (In detail: clock paradox.) Lorentz transformation and four-dimensional, space-time view.

Minkowski spacetime
Space-time, events and their coordinates, space-time interval and proper time. Light cone, types of world-lines and hypersurfaces. Real four-dimensional formalism: inertial frames, Minkowski tensor (metric tensor), vectors and co-vectors (contravariant and covariant indices), rising and lowering of indices. Lorentz transformation; invariance of interval and general properties of Lorentz transformations, inverse transformation. Transformation properties of quantities, tensors; tensorial formulation of physical laws.

Relativistic mechanics
Four-velocity. Relativistic collisions, dependence of mass on relative speed, rest mass. Four-momentum. Equation of motion and four-force, comparison with Newton's equation of motion. Einstein's mass-energy relation, relation between energy and momentum. The question of (non)constancy of rest mass. The question of superluminal speeds and causality principle, hyperbolic motion.

Relativistic electrodynamics (in vacuum)
Four-dimensional form of electrodynamics: four-current, four-potential, tensor of EM field, Maxwell equations; equation of continuity, Lorenz condition, wave equation; connection between tensorial character of equations and invariance of charge; relativity of electric and magnetic fields, EM-field invariants. Lorentz four-force. Plane harmonic EM wave, wave four-vector.

Appearance of objects in special relativity
Basic aspects of appearance of an object - direction, colour and shape - and their dependence on relative velocity between the object and observer: aberration, Doppler effect and deformation. Composition of signal velocity with the relative velocity between the source and observer, the role of Lorentzian contraction and dilation. Comparison with classical results.

Variational principles in special relativity
Lagrange function and action, Hamilton variational principle. Particle mechanics: Lagrange equations of the 2nd kind, finding the Lagrange function from d'Alembert and Hamilton principles, illustration on charged particle in EM field. Variational derivation of Maxwell equations.

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