Mr. Rogers' IB Physics Topics

Syllabus 1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter

IB Physics - Relativity (Chapter 39 Serway)

  1. Explain what is meant by a frame of reference.

  2. Explain what is meant by an inertial frame of reference (IFOR).

  1. Describe what is meant by a Galilean transformation.

  1. Calculate velocities using the Galilean transformations.

  2. Describe the key points of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic radiation.

  1. Show that Galilean transformations fail if applied to a moving source of light. (Speed of electromagnetic waves in a vacuum is independent of the source's velocity.)


Concepts and Postulates of Special Relativity

  1. State the two postulates of the special theory of relativity. (p. 1156)

  1. Discuss the concept of simultaneity.


Relativistic Kinematics

  1. Explain the concept of a light clock.

    • For example, the time taken for a beam of light to bounce between two perfect, parallel mirrors can be used to measure time.


  2. Define the term proper time.

    to = proper time, the time measured by a clock moving with the event being measured, or the time that would be measured if the measurement were taken at rest.


  1. Derive the time dilation formula.

    t = to / [(1 - v2 / c2)^0.05]

  1. Solve problems using the time dilation formula.

  2. Draw and annotate a graph of how the Lorentz factor varies with relative velocity.

g = [1 - v2 / c2]^(-0.05)


Some Consequences of Special Relativity

The twin paradox

  1. Describe how the concept of time dilation leads to the “twin paradox”.

  2. Solve one-dimensional problems involving the relativistic addition of velocities.


Relativistic mass increase

  1. Define the term rest mass = mo.

  2. Explain in terms of the relativistic mass equation why no mass can ever attain or exceed the speed of light in a vacuum.

m = mo / [(1 - v2 / c2)^0.05]



  1. State that the equivalence of mass and energy is predicted by special relativity.

  2. Distinguish between rest mass energy and total energy.


Evidence to Support Special Relativity

  1. Discuss muon decay as experimental evidence for time dilation and length contraction. (p. 1162)

The Michelson–Morley experiment (p. 1154 Serway)

  1. Outline the set-up of the Michelson–Morley experiment.

  2. Outline the result of the Michelson–Morley experiment and its implication.

  • the constancy of the speed of light

  • there is no absolute reference frame














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