Saturday, 10 September 2016

And we're off S383 First impressions

So the website for S383 opened this week and I got to look at the TMA's and the pdf of the course units.

S383 Unit 1 is a pretty good summary of General Relativity and the Schwarzschild metric and the Friedmann equations. It skimps on some details for example there is not a full blown derivation of the Friedmann equations from General relativity but enough is given so that you could in principle derive the results  for yourself (Good luck with that one I would estimate a fairly intensive month to get it exactly right if you don't die of boredom :) )

S383 Unit 2 is a summary of observational cosmology starting with the big bang and then an overview of modern ideas in cosmology centering around inflation. From what I can tell there is not a great deal of detail here.  However the author seems to think inflation is still quite speculative and wants to concentrate on more tangible things. The course then goes on to look at Galaxies, the evidence for black holes gravitational lensing and the Lyman alpha forest. All interesting and active areas of research and good to get an overview

S383 Unit 3 is called extreme environmental astrophysics and is concerned amongst other things with the formation of acretion discs near a black hole and many other things which I will cover in more detail as time goes on.

Looking at the TMAs that are available it has to be said that they don't really do justice to the depth of material covered in the course I dare say the electronic tmas will cover more topics. This is based only on 3 of the TMAs the TMA for the second block being an extended one and so not issued yet.

Ok so initial impressions are that this course covers a lot of interesting material but not necessarily at a mathematical depth that would satisfy more mathematically minded people. I guess one would have to look elsewhere for that.

One place to look is the Cambridge Part III courses examples sheets

Scroll down to the bottom and you will find example sheets for three of the core courses in relativity that are offered. Also most generously Dr Baumann has published his lecture notes on Cosmology

More than enough to satisfy those wanting a more mathematical approach I hope to do at least some the examples associated with Cosmology and maybe some of the General Relativity example sheets alongside my work on S383.

As an aside I decided to leave MST326 for this year, I may as I have 2 years left do it in conjuction with the new MST327 course

next year and round off my second open degree with M303 the year after or vice versa Who knows