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Question about GR

  1. Aug 21, 2011 #1
    I may have the option my senior year to take a GR class at the graduate level. I was wondering if taking this class would be sufficient enough for me to say I "know" general relativity? Do you have to be an active researcher in the field to have a firm grasp of GR, or can one simply take a course in it and understand it to a reasonable level?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2011 #2
    It depends on the "definition of understanding". You could read a book or attend a seminary of popularized physics and still claim to know what GR is about.

    Personally I consider mathematics to be the only key for unlocking the knowledge. (Too poetic but still valid!) In this case, the maths that are required (Tensor Calculus, Differential Geometry etc.) could no way be provided in secondary school.
  4. Aug 21, 2011 #3
    I take it by your saying graduate level that you are in college. I have not taken any GR classes nor am I even in college, but as a general rule, I would usually say that the harder the course, the more you will learn and the faster you will learn it. So if you aren't afraid of a harder course, I would say go for it. If you like it, take even harder courses and so on and so forth.
  5. Aug 21, 2011 #4

    ...I mean't senior year in college. I'm a sophomore in physics and mathematics.
  6. Aug 22, 2011 #5
    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I'm from Europe where serior year means twelfth grade:wink:
  7. Aug 22, 2011 #6
    My PhD c2006 concerned a lot about General Relativity. I don't claim to "know" it but rather I am intruiged by it.

    It sounds like you are asking yourself the question of whether I am intruiged enough to follow an advanced course.

    I am not familiar with what you have learnt so far but my guess would be that is a further course on GR exists in your college then the content is really likely to be the cool stuff, i.e., for instance GR in cosmological theories, Kerr & Reidster-Nordstrum black holes, stationary black holes and perhaps spinor algebra and the Newman-Penrose formalism.

    Hapy hunting!
  8. Aug 22, 2011 #7


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    Depends on the instructor, honestly. You should talk to whoever is teaching the course, and find out what it's going to be like. It's entirely possible to learn something useful in a course like that without it being way over your head. But no, I wouldn't say you'd understand GR after that.
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