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Physics Seminar: Relativity

Imagine this: You can fit a 10 m pole in a barn half the size. Your twin is now 10 years older than you, but you didn't use a time machine. And no matter how fast you run, you can never reach the speed of light. How can you explain these scenarios? We will use thought experiments like these and other tools to explore Einstein's theory of special relativity. We introduce Einstein's two postulates and explore the counterintuitive effects of time dilation, length contraction, and relativity of simultaneity. The class concludes with a look at spacetime diagrams and several challenging paradoxes of relativity.

2 days

2 days  


Sat & Sun
Dec 9 - Dec 10
4:00 - 7:00
Dec 9 - Dec 10
4:00 - 7:00 PM Eastern
3:00 - 6:00 PM Central
2:00 - 5:00 PM Mountain
1:00 - 4:00 PM Pacific
Click here to see more time zones

Who Should Take?

This course is for students interested in the basics of the mind-bending theory of special relativity. This course does not assume any physics knowledge and is intended for students interested in learning about a conceptually challenging theory of space and time. Students should have a basic competency with algebra before taking this course. We recommend having taken Introduction to Algebra A at AoPS or having the equivalent knowledge.


Lesson 1 Principle of Relativity, Speed of Light, and Time Dilation
Lesson 2 Length Contraction, Simultaneity, and Paradoxes

I loved my experience taking this course. What I loved most about it was that even if I knew a good part of the techniques we covered, I still learned many new ones and got a much better understanding of how to combine new and old concepts and apply them to problems that had previously seemed much more overwhelming. I look forward to taking other courses here in the future!