ACM 10030 Mechanics and Special Relativity

This is a discontinued module. However, material related to it is posted here, as an archive.

Description: This course develops the theory of planetary and satellite motion. It discusses the work of Kepler and Newton that described the elliptic orbits of planets around the earth and which can be applied to the elliptic motion of satellites around the earth. We examine the dynamics of spacecraft. Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is then introduced. His two basic postulates of relativity are discussed and we show how space and time appear to two observers moving relative to each other. We derive, and discuss the meaning of, Einstein's famous formula E=mc2.

Learning Outcomes: On completion of this module students should be able to:

  1. Explain the concepts of planetary and satellite orbits, Kepler's laws and how to boost an earth satellite from one orbit to another.
  2. Solve orbit problems in mathematical terms.
  3. Describe Einstein's postulates and derive the results of special relativity on simultaneity, length contraction, time dilation and relative velocity. Explain the equivalence of mass and energy.
  4. Solve problems in special relativity in mathematical terms.

Course documents: Generally, I do not make available complete lecture-note sets for first-year modules. However, because this is no longer an active module, the full course notes are available here in book form for downloading. Old assignments are also placed here.

From 2010-2011:

From 2009-2010: