• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products Here!

Relativity text for Physics Olympiad

  • #26
399
0
That no body mentioned the greatest of all:cool:
Try feynman lectures on physics, if you are learning physics it's a must:smile:

You also can try the MIT openware, a great staff as a source
http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/index.htm

BTW, are you preparing for the International Olympiad (IPHO)?
Well, I don't particularly like Feynman's style and it's not a great help in solving problems.

Ultimately the IPhO, yes, but first I've got to crack the regional and national ones (small chance).

So, Spacetime Physics will do for my purpose? It will allow me to solve (very) tough problems on topics like the Doppler shift? Any other suggestions?

Molu
 
  • #27
mjsd
Homework Helper
726
3
"spacetime physics" is a very good book.... but the best way to work out the level of toughness of the questions that you are going to face in the Olympiad is to do a survey of the past Olympiad problems. although I didn't do Physics Olympiad trials back in my days, I did participated in some Maths Olympiad trials in my country. Problems usually involve deep thinking more than "difficult" concepts. of course you can't go very far if you can't do calculus for example (and calculus can be thought of as a "difficult" concept at secondary level) or in the maths case, you need to know a bit of number theory, advanced euclidean geometry and method of proofs etc. but you know what I mean...

In regards to learning SR.. here is a formal development (it is not complete but it is a start)
http://nedwww.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/March01/Carroll3/Carroll1.html

Want to learn the set of formulas (in 3D) and all the related stuffs including the extension to Electromagnetism try Classical Electrodynamics by Jackson (warning: not a good book in my opinion to learn these stuffs as a newbie, but very good ref once you kind of know the stuffs)

Frankly, there are a lot of stuffs out there, online or in books. A quick trip to the local university library shall get you the stuffs. first and foremost though is to find out what you really need by reading past papers.
 
  • #28
399
0
"spacetime physics" is a very good book.... but the best way to work out the level of toughness of the questions that you are going to face in the Olympiad is to do a survey of the past Olympiad problems. although I didn't do Physics Olympiad trials back in my days, I did participated in some Maths Olympiad trials in my country. Problems usually involve deep thinking more than "difficult" concepts. of course you can't go very far if you can't do calculus for example (and calculus can be thought of as a "difficult" concept at secondary level) or in the maths case, you need to know a bit of number theory, advanced euclidean geometry and method of proofs etc. but you know what I mean...

In regards to learning SR.. here is a formal development (it is not complete but it is a start)
http://nedwww.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/March01/Carroll3/Carroll1.html

Want to learn the set of formulas (in 3D) and all the related stuffs including the extension to Electromagnetism try Classical Electrodynamics by Jackson (warning: not a good book in my opinion to learn these stuffs as a newbie, but very good ref once you kind of know the stuffs)

Frankly, there are a lot of stuffs out there, online or in books. A quick trip to the local university library shall get you the stuffs. first and foremost though is to find out what you really need by reading past papers.
I would need to do a huge amount of paperwork to get into a university library, and there's no guarantee I would get the permission. I can lay my hands on Jackson. Is he a good source for SR in general (as opposed to manifestly covariant Electrodynamics in particular)?

I want to get my conceptual basis down cold so I can solve a problem using the most efficient technique available.

Molu
 
  • #29
mjsd
Homework Helper
726
3
if you want conceptual understanding... you can't miss with Spacetime Physics
 
  • #30
mjsd
Homework Helper
726
3
can't get to uni library? no worries, search for lecture notes online from various universities around the world.. cheap and fast!
by the way, Jackson does have one chapter devoted to SR.
 
  • #31
Well, I don't particularly like Feynman's style and it's not a great help in solving problems.

Ultimately the IPhO, yes, but first I've got to crack the regional and national ones (small chance).

So, Spacetime Physics will do for my purpose? It will allow me to solve (very) tough problems on topics like the Doppler shift? Any other suggestions?

Molu
Unfortunately there isn't any shortcut for solving problems the best way is practice, I gave you a link to MIT openware , I believe you will find there any thing you need(video lecture, lecture notes, problems...). But learning isn't enough you need to practice . After you learn a topic just solve a lot of problems for this topic, you will find it as the best way or learning.


By the way, how does the regional competition works?(open question for calculation or closed for intuition)
And good luck.
 
  • #32
robphy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
5,471
689
While I'm not familiar with the nature of the questions on the Physics Olympiad, I would suggest learning to solve problems in relativity by

FIRST drawing a "spacetime diagram" in which the events are clearly labelled.
Once that is done, it is often a matter of doing Minkowski geometry (analogous to Euclidean geometry)... then doing calculations (using rapidities and spacetime trigonometry, preferrably) and then interpreting physically.

(You probably could get by memorizing the special-case "length contraction", "time dilation", "doppler effect" formulas... for some problems... but for challenging problems, I think you can reason through the problem a lot better using the plan above.)

Spacetime Physics is probably your best resource with its solved problems (which I pointed you to earlier on Taylor's website). For a beginner, this is better than L&L or Carroll or Jackson or Feynman. (The often neglected k-calculus treated in Woodhouse's notes [I posted links to earlier] is very efficient for calculations [because it's done in the eigenbasis of the Lorentz Transformations].)
 
  • #33
399
0
Okay everyone, thanks for all the suggestions. I have acquired Greiner's Point Particles and Relativity (I love the Greiner covers :-) which seems to be both introductory (it starts with Newtonian dynamics actually) and geometrical (begins SR with the Lorentz transformations in Minkowski space). I think I'll go through it, and consult the wonderful links you have provided if I need further assistance.

I hope there are no complaints about Greiner?

Thanks again.

Molu
 
  • #34
399
0
On an unrelated note, I'm reading Feynman's QED. I've never read anything quite like it! Very unusually for a popular science book, he begins by doing actual numerical calculations rather than discussions of thought experiments or philosophy. He interprets state vectors as spatial vectors and uses a quirky but effective illustration of phase angles using a custom-made 'watch'. A delightful book.

Molu
 
  • #35
robphy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
5,471
689
On an unrelated note, I'm reading Feynman's QED. I've never read anything quite like it! Very unusually for a popular science book, he begins by doing actual numerical calculations rather than discussions of thought experiments or philosophy. He interprets state vectors as spatial vectors and uses a quirky but effective illustration of phase angles using a custom-made 'watch'. A delightful book.

Molu
You might enjoy watching
Richard Feynman
The Douglas Robb Memorial Lectures
http://vega.org.uk/video/subseries/8
 
  • #36
399
0
FIRST drawing a "spacetime diagram" in which the events are clearly labelled.
Once that is done, it is often a matter of doing Minkowski geometry (analogous to Euclidean geometry)... then doing calculations (using rapidities and spacetime trigonometry, preferrably) and then interpreting physically.

(You probably could get by memorizing the special-case "length contraction", "time dilation", "doppler effect" formulas... for some problems... but for challenging problems, I think you can reason through the problem a lot better using the plan above.)

The program you describe sounds interesting, something like how we analyse mechanics problems using free-body diagrams and Newton's equations. Is it developed in Spacetime Physics?

Molu
 
  • #37
robphy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
5,471
689
The program you describe sounds interesting, something like how we analyse mechanics problems using free-body diagrams and Newton's equations. Is it developed in Spacetime Physics?

Molu
In Spacetime Physics, you'll find aspects of that way of thinking about the geometry of relativity.
 
  • #38
399
0
In Spacetime Physics, you'll find aspects of that way of thinking about the geometry of relativity.
But will I find the actual calculation methods?

Molu
 
  • #39
mjsd
Homework Helper
726
3
But will I find the actual calculation methods?

Molu
there will be (but from memory they are pretty basic calculations...still, the word "basic" can have different meaning for different ppl)
 
  • #40
robphy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
5,471
689
But will I find the actual calculation methods?

Molu
Yes. First, you'll probably find a spacetime diagram of the situation then a calculation using rapidity [the Minkowski angle], which more clearly expresses the geometry underlying the problem. ([tex]\beta(=v/c)[/tex] is simply [tex]\tanh\theta[/tex] and [tex]\gamma[/tex] is simply [tex]\cosh\theta[/tex].) Later, you may find re-interpretations in terms of various [secondary] "effects"... like time-dilation or length-contraction. [In the second (1992?) edition of Spacetime Physics, you'll find that the use of rapidity was dropped. https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=882610#post882610 ]

So, in that book, you get a more of a "spacetime trigonometry" approach to solving problems, which is a good first step [compared to standard introductory textbook presentations, which are mainly "algebraic"]. One can go a little further by emphasizing, or at least connecting with, the geometry by vectorial and tensorial methods... but that's another book.
 
Last edited:
  • #41
318
0
I am also from India. Go for Halliday Resnick for the theory and Irodov for the problems.

I am in 11th,so i am also going to give the physics olympiad. Did you give the olympiad in your 11th. For the topics like classical mechanics and electrodynamics is Irodov OK?As you have already given the olympiad you might be having some experience.
 
  • #42
I recommend A.P.French's book, Feynman's lecture, and Einstein's Meaning of Relativity. But for taking Physics Olympiad, the most efficient way is to work on problems. I recommend you to find some Chinese Physics Olympiad Problems (if english version is available), or Russian, Polish, etc. btw, I take part in Physics Olympiad in my high school also.
 
Last edited:
  • #43
399
0
Yes. First, you'll probably find a spacetime diagram of the situation then a calculation using rapidity [the Minkowski angle], which more clearly expresses the geometry underlying the problem. ([tex]\beta(=v/c)[/tex] is simply [tex]\tanh\theta[/tex] and [tex]\gamma[/tex] is simply [tex]\cosh\theta[/tex].) Later, you may find re-interpretations in terms of various [secondary] "effects"... like time-dilation or length-contraction. [In the second (1992?) edition of Spacetime Physics, you'll find that the use of rapidity was dropped. https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=882610#post882610 ]

So, in that book, you get a more of a "spacetime trigonometry" approach to solving problems, which is a good first step [compared to standard introductory textbook presentations, which are mainly "algebraic"]. One can go a little further by emphasizing, or at least connecting with, the geometry by vectorial and tensorial methods... but that's another book.
So you are recommending the first edition? Now I'll have to see if I can find the book here. How does it compare to Moore's Traveler's Guide to Spacetime?

Molu
 
  • #44
robphy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
5,471
689
So you are recommending the first edition? Now I'll have to see if I can find the book here. How does it compare to Moore's Traveler's Guide to Spacetime?

Molu
Yes, the first edition.... sort of.
I presume there was a first edition... then there was a "first edition with worked solutions"... then more recently a rewritten second edition (without rapidity and without worked solutions). Earlier, I mentioned that the first chapter of this first edition with solutions is at one author's (E.F. Taylor) website: http://www.eftaylor.com/download.html#special_relativity (If I recall correctly, Chapter 1 is mainly kinematics... Ch 2 is dynamics and Ch3 is a short chapter setting you up for GR. A lot of the good stuff is in Chapter 1.

Tom Moore's book is a good book.... partially inspired by Spacetime Physics. In fact, it's probably a good stepping stone to Spacetime Physics... although there is some overlap. It's a modern presentation emphasizing the "spacetime diagram" and its geometry (unlike what is found in most introductory and intro-modern-physics textbooks where the spacetime diagram is presented like a sketch, if it is presented at all). I used it as a supplementary text for a special topics course I taught. An alternative to "A Traveler's Guide to Spacetime" is Moore's more recent Unit R of "Six Ideas That Shaped Physics".
 
  • #45
399
0
You mean it's more basic than Spacetime Physics. I saw that Taylor removed mentions of rapidity apparently because no instructor used them. So how are SR problems commonly solved? Also, is it better to approach a problem using Lorentz transformations or invariance of the Minkowski metric? Thanks.

Molu
 
  • #46
robphy
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
Gold Member
5,471
689
You mean it's more basic than Spacetime Physics. I saw that Taylor removed mentions of rapidity apparently because no instructor used them. So how are SR problems commonly solved? Also, is it better to approach a problem using Lorentz transformations or invariance of the Minkowski metric? Thanks.

Molu
Yes, it is more introductory... written to be used as a better but longer supplement to a standard introductory textbook, in place of its usually short and merely formula-oriented treatment. However, it does have topics that overlap with Spacetime Physics.. and introduce some detail in more advanced methods not specifically done in Spacetime Physics.

"No instructor" is a little too strong. I'm sure there are some that used it... and I have met other instructors that are unhappy about its omission.. and some of us have mentioned it to Prof. Taylor. I wonder if some kind of survey was done by the publisher or someone else, resulting in some report that rapidity was not being used [much].

You don't need rapidity to "solve" the problems. However, many problems (particularly nonintuitive problems) are efficiently solved using rapidity and an analogue of one's Euclidean-geometric and trigonometric intuition. In my opinion, the geometric formulation of the problem and solution [with its rather clear interpretation] will inform and improve one's physical intuition about relativity.

The nature of the problem often dictates which method is better.
 

Related Threads for: Relativity text for Physics Olympiad

  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
9K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
14K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
10K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
48K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
32
Views
39K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
4K
Replies
11
Views
6K
Top