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NUS Physics Module Review: PC4248 Relativity

The module covers (in order) special relativity, tensor analysis, particle and photon geodesics, black holes, even more tensor analysis (covariant derivatives, curvature, parallel transport), and finally the field equation is derived.

If you have taken a module with Kenneth before, you know his style. There’s the lecture worksheets and the weekly (difficult!) assignments, and his two (also difficult!) midterms and a final. Thanks to covid we had no finals, fortunately. But it meant that assignments were super high weightage, and there was a lot of stress about getting these right. I further made the incredibly stupid decision of a couple of assignments to be done “later”, which meant I spent a good chunk of reading week finishing this stuff up.

The module follows quite closely Hartle’s book on general relativity. Interestingly, not even a little “real” differential geometry has to be developed to get all the way up to the field equations, and for the most part, there is still a logical flow from first principles. The only thing you really have to accept is that every curved space is locally flat (this in fact is true for any manifold: they locally look like Rn).

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