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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: PHY1032 Module Title: MATTER, FIELDS, SPACE & TIME
Module Provider: Physics Short Name: PHY1032
Level: HE1 Module Co-ordinator: AL-KHALILI JS Prof (Physics)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
Semester 1 and Semester 2.
Assessment Pattern

Assessment Pattern


Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)


Space Time and Relativity Examination




Electronics Examination




Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science Examination




Space, Time and Relativity Class Test




Electronics SToMP Tests




Introduction to Astrodynamics & Space Science Class Test




Qualifying Condition(s) 


University general regulations refer.



Assessment Schedule


Semester 1 Coursework:


Space Time and Relativity: two class tests one in week 7 and one in week 15



Semester 2 Coursework:


Electronics: online SToMP tests during Semester 2


Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science class test in week 7


Examination Paper 3 (June):


3 hour examination consisting of;



Section A; answer 3 questions on each of Space Time and Relativity, Electronics and Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science (weighted at 35% of the examination paper)






Section B; answer 2 from 3 longer questions on each of Space, Time and Relativity, Electronics and Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science (weighted at 65% of the examination paper).


Module Overview



A brief introduction to electronic components, circuits, networks and measurements.  Networks may be analysed in terms of their D.C. (steady state) or A.C. (time varying) components.  Active semiconductor devices are introduced and their applications are demonstrated in simple circuits.



Space Time and Relativity:


This component introduces concepts which underpin Einstein’s Special and General theories of relativity discussing events and physical phenomena from different frames of reference and in different co-ordinate systems, and the way in which mathematics relates these descriptions.  Concepts of inertial frames of reference, transformations, invariants, and elementary relativity principles and covariance, will be introduced.  These tools and concepts are then used to describe some of the phenomena in Special and General Relativity.



Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science:


An introduction to both the basic tools required in observation in Astronomy and current views of the origins of the universe and its constituent parts.



Pre-university education to Advanced Level standard.


Module Aims



To provide a basic introduction to electronics and its building blocks. Introduce the techniques used to predict the parameters and response of simple circuits.  To draw simple parallels between the theory and practice learned in this course and other areas such as mechanics, resonance and the solution of basic differential equations. To provide the basic ideas that will allow an appreciation for the operation of the electronic measurement devices commonly used in the laboratory.



Space Time and Relativity:


This component aims to introduce, at an early stage in the student curriculum, a discussion of how physicists make measurements in space and time by construction of frames of reference, how these are established and chosen for mathematical convenience, and how measurements made by different experimenters with respect their own frames of reference can be related.  The component aims to provide a familiarity with the Lorentz transformation equations and their applications in Special Relativity, and the concepts which lead to Einstein’s General theory.



Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science:


Our ability to observe astronomical objects and our ideas about the origins of the universe have changed dramatically over the last 50 years and continue to change.  The aims of this component will be a) to give a broad understanding of the methods of observation in Astronomy and Earth Observation and the methods of measuring many basic quantities such as distance in Astronomy, and b) to give an overview of our present understanding of the Physical Origins of the Universe based on the standard Big Bang Model.


Learning Outcomes



By the end of this component the student should have obtained a basic working understanding of electrical networks containing both passive and active components and to be able to analyze them in relation to DC and time varying signals. Students should appreciate the operation of electronic measurement devices and how their properties influence the measurements made.



Space Time and Relativity:


By the end of this component students will have an appreciation of how coordinates, lengths and intervals are transformed in special relativity and how this differs from the Newtonain/Galilean view.  They will appreciate why and how Einstein was led to the conclusion that nothing can travel faster than light and how the constancy of the speed of light led to a revolution in our concepts of space and time. They will be able to transform velocities from one inertial frame to another and calculate relativistic masses, energies and momenta.  They will have a basic feel for how gravity affects space and time in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, but without any rigorous mathematics.



Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science:


On completing this component the student should have an appreciation of how observations are made in Astronomy, how estimates are made of basic quantities such as distance, masses, stellar luminosities, temperature etc.  They should have an understanding of the dynamics of astronomical and satellite systems.  They should also be able to apply this knowledge to an understanding of cosmological models and models of the solar system.


Module Content



D.C. Circuit Theory:               Electrical nomenclature, current, voltage, resistance, conductance,             power and decibels.  Kirchhoff's laws.  Current and voltage sources,         Thévenin and Norton sources.  Condition for maximum power transfer.     Analysis of simple networks of resistors.


A.C. Circuit Theory:               Capacitors and Inductors.  Energy storage.  Use of complex numbers.                                                  Concepts of reactive impedance and frequency dependence.          Transient response.  Tuned circuit principles żżω0, Δω and Q).  Concept          of link between frequency and transient responses.


Active Devices:                      Diodes and bipolar transistors and their uses in rectification and                                                     amplification.  Zenner and light emitting diodes.


Systems and Circuits:                        Concept of feedback, operational amplifiers, frequency response of                                                            circuits with reactive components, filters, Bode plots.  Active filters,                                                            differentiators, integrators.  Oscillators. 



Space Time and Relativity:


Introductory discussion of events, reference frames, transformations between reference frames and invariant quantities on transformation.



Introduction to relativity principles, Galilean relativity, the basis of special relativity.  The constancy of the speed of light, the Michelson-Morley experiment, the relativity of simultaneity, time measurements made with clocks in relative motion (time dilation), the Lorentz transformation equations, examples and implications of time dilation and length contraction.



Spacetime diagrams and light cones, invariance of the spacetime interval.



Velocity transformations, can things go faster than light?  Cerenkov radiation, relativistic mass and momentum, deriving E=mc2, the relativistic Doppler effect, the twin paradox, special relativity and electromagnetism.



Accelerating frames of reference, the principle of equivalence, curvature of space-time, experimental tests of GR: Mercury’s perihelion, the gravitational redshift, the bending of light due to gravity.  Black holes, singularities, the event horizon, frames of reference inside and outside the horizon.



Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science:


Celestial Mechanics:                                Newtonian Mechanics, Kepler’s Laws, Binary Stars, stellar        masses, satellite launching and orbits


Electromagnetic spectrum:                      Blackbody radiation, Wien’s Law, spectral lines, Doppler           effect, temperature


Telescopes and space telescopes:          basic optics, refraction and reflection, interferometry,     optical telescopes, radio-telescopes, infra-red, ultra-violet   and X-ray astronomy, telescopes in orbit


Planetary Physics:                                   Review of the planets in the Solar System and their moons.       Sizes, composition and atmospheres of planets.  Theories             of planetary formation


Earth observation:                                    Thermal emission from surface, new IR observation,     meteorology, land and sea surface deformations and   temperature, vegetation and fisheries conservation,       mapping, pollution monitoring.


Stars and galaxies:                                   Measurements of Distance, Temperature and Luminosity,                                                                   Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram.  Star formation and         evolution, stellar energy sources, nucleosynthesis (basic        ideas)


Big Bang Cosmology:                               Hubble’s Law.  Age and size of the Universe.  Cosmic   Microwave Background.  Initial high energy interactions.             Particle and nucleon formation.  Primeval nucleosynthesis.


Methods of Teaching/Learning



36 hours of lectures / demonstrations and tutorial classes.



Space Time and Relativity:


39 hours of lecture and tutorial classes.



Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science:


36 hours of lectures, examples and tutorial classes.


Selected Texts/Journals



i.                C K Alexander and M N O Sadiku, Fundamentals of Electric Circuits, McGraw Hill (2003).


ii.              D V Bugg, Circuits, Amplifiers and Gates, Adam Hilger.


iii.             P Horowitz and W Hill, The Art of Electronics, Cambridge University Press (highly recommended for the more advanced student).



Space Time and Relativity:


i.                D Halliday, R Resnick and J Walker, Fundamentals of Physics Extended, [Fifth Edition], John Wiley, New York 1997.


ii.              K Krane, Modern Physics, [2nd Edition], John Wiley 1996.


iii.             W Rindler, Introduction to Special Relativity, Oxford University Press.


iv.            A P French, Special Relativity, W W Norton & Company, New York 1968.


v.              E F Taylor and J A Wheeler, Spacetime Physics, Freeman


vi.            J S Al-Khalili, Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Machines, Institute of Physics          Publishing 1999.



Introduction to Astrodynamics and Space Science:


i.                W J Kaufmann, Universe, 4th Edition, Freeman & Co. 1991.  ISBN 0-7167-2094-9


ii.              Bradley W Carroll and Dale A Ostlie, Modern Astrophysics, Addison-Wesley Publ. Co. Inc, 1996.  ISBN 0-201-54730-9



For Earth Observation, please consult:


i.                J B Campbell, Introduction to Remote Sensing (2nd edition), Taylor and Francis, 1996, ISBN        0-7484-0663-8


ii.              Lillesand and Kiefer, Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation (3rd edition), Wiley, 1994, ISBN 0-471-30575-8


Last Updated
August 2010.