Session:

Introductory Courses

Paper Type:

Contributed

Title:

It's About Time: Teaching Correct Intuition for General Relativity*

Meeting:

2018 Winter Meeting: San Diego, CA 
Location:

N/A 
Date:


Time:

5:10PM

Author:

Jonathan M. Clark*, University Of Tennessee, Knoxville.
4233100720, jclar121@vols.utk.edu

CoAuthor(s):

None

Abstract:

When teaching relativity, many famous analogies and simplifications are called upon to aid students' intuitions. The phrase "gravity bends space" and the visual of a bowling ball on a trampoline are two such examples. However, mathematical considerations of the theory necessitate a more rigorous explanation. Particularly, time's role in relativity is central to the theory's ability to model our world. We present several key connections to the real world which include: the coordinate transformation in Einstein's original thought experiment, a weak field approximation showing that Newtonian gravity can be completely recovered from perturbing the time component in the metric, and the theorem of geometry that a threedimensional manifold cannot have Einstein gravity in a vacuum with vanishing cosmological constant. These considerations are simple enough to include in an advanced highschool or undergraduatelevel lesson plan.

Footnotes:

*Sponsored by Lauren Jeneva Clark

Presentation:

Relativity Presentation.pdf

