Mechanics and Special Relativity

Physics H&S - Humanities & Sciences

Course Description

(First in a three-part series: PHYSICS 61, PHYSICS 71, PHYSICS 81.) This course covers Einstein's special theory of relativity and Newtonian mechanics at a level appropriate for students with a strong high school mathematics and physics background, who are contemplating a major in Physics or Engineering Physics or are interested in a rigorous treatment of physics. Postulates of special relativity, simultaneity, time dilation, length contraction, the Lorentz transformation, the space-time invariant, causality, relativistic momentum and energy, and invariant mass. Central forces, friction, contact forces, linear restoring forces. Momentum, work, energy, collisions. Angular momentum, torque, center of mass, moment of inertia, precession. Conserved quantities. Uses the language of vectors and multivariable calculus. Requirements to enroll in the course: Completion of Physics Placement Diagnostic and/or completion of at least one course in PHYSICS 20 or 40 series. Completion of or co-enrollment in MATH 51 or MATH 61CM or MATH 61DM. Prerequisites: mechanics at the level of PHYSICS 41 or score of 5 on AP Physics C Mechanics or equivalent; calculus at the level of MATH 21 or score of 5 on AP Calculus BC or equivalent.

Grading Basis

RSN - Satisfactory/No Credit





Course Repeatable for Degree Credit?


Course Component


Enrollment Optional?


This course has been approved for the following WAYS

Formal Reasoning (FR), Scientific Method and Analysis (SMA)


PHYSICS61 is a prerequisite for:


PHYSICS61 is a completion requirement for: