Geodesics without differential equations: general relativistic calculations for introductory modern physics classes

Rowland, D. R. (2006) Geodesics without differential equations: general relativistic calculations for introductory modern physics classes. European Journal of Physics, 27 1: 57-70. doi:10.1088/0143-0807/27/1/006


Author Rowland, D. R.
Title Geodesics without differential equations: general relativistic calculations for introductory modern physics classes
Journal name European Journal of Physics   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0143-0807
1361-6404
Publication date 2006-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1088/0143-0807/27/1/006
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 27
Issue 1
Start page 57
End page 70
Total pages 14
Editor A. I. M. Rae
Place of publication Bristol, United Kingdom
Publisher Institute of Physics Publishing
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Abstract Introductory courses covering modem physics sometimes introduce some elementary ideas from general relativity, though the idea of a geodesic is generally limited to shortest Euclidean length on a curved surface of two spatial dimensions rather than extremal aging in spacetime. It is shown that Epstein charts provide a simple geometric picture of geodesics in one space and one time dimension and that for a hypothetical uniform gravitational field, geodesics are straight lines on a planar diagram. This means that the properties of geodesics in a uniform field can be calculated with only a knowledge of elementary geometry and trigonometry, thus making the calculation of some basic results of general relativity accessible to students even in an algebra-based survey course on physics.
Keyword Education, Scientific Disciplines
Physics, Multidisciplinary
Spacetime
Field
Q-Index Code C1

 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 08:48:05 EST