Academic Year 2011-2012: Fall, Winter, and Spring Terms


Yanbei Chen. 318 Cahill X4258. Email:
Office hours: Monday 4:30PM
Teaching Assistant:

Huan Yang. 350 Cahill, Phone X3155,
Office hours: Tuesday 8PM at 319 Cahill


Lectures will be at 269 LAU on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1PM to 2:25PM



This year-long course will be following the unpublished textbook by Roger Blandford and Kip Thorne, included below. First term will cover chapters 2 through 10 which will, broadly speaking, include special relativity, statistical physics, and optics. In the winter term the next eight chapters (11 through 18) will be covered, studying elasticity, fluid mechanics and magneothydrodynamics. The spring term will cover the final nine chapters (19 through 27), including plasma physics and general relativity & cosmology.

The course description will be found here. The course is pass-fail and letter grades will be given by petition only. You can also read the preface to the text to learn more about the philosophy of the course and the topics to be covered.

Textbook and Assignments

Below are links to the current version of the textbook for this course, which is authored by Roger Blandford and Kip Thorne. This textbook can be freely used by students taking the course. People not taking the course are free to download a single copy of the textbook for personal use, but duplication of additional copies and distribution to others besides the downloading person require the express consent of the authors. Please send errata and suggestions for improvements to

Blandford and Thorne are currently working on a near-final revision of the textbook. The version "10..." of each chapter, below, is the old, semi-final version . The near-final version is numbered "11...". Homework problems will be drawn from the new "11..." version of each chapter, so do not rely on the earlier version when working on the problems.

Yanbei will provide a homework assignment, at a link below, on the Wednesday evening that he finishes lecturing about that assignment's chapter. The students' solutions must be turned in at the beginning of the following Wednesday class (the link's indicated due date). Solutions prepared by TAs will be provided at a link below soon after the class at which the students' solutions are turned in. See the course description for further detail.


Preface and Contents [version 1100.2.K] Course Description
Chapter 1: Newtonian Physics: Geometric Viewpoint [Version 1101.2.K] Just browse this chapter

Chapter 2: Special Relativity: Geometric Viewpoint [version 1102.2.K] [version 1102.3.K] Assignment 1(due Oct 5)
Solution Set 1
Chapter 3: Kinetic Theory [version 1003.1.K], [version 1103.1.K] Assignment 2(due Oct 17)
Solution Set 2
Chapter 4: Statistical Mechanics [version 1004.1.K] [version 1104.2.K] [version 1104.3.K] Assignment 3(due Oct 26)
Solution Set 3
Chapter 5: Statistical Thermodynamics [version 1005.1.K] [version 1105.2.K] [version 1105.3.K] Assignment 4(due November 2)
Solution Set 4
Chapter 6: Random Processes [version 1006.1.K] [version 1106.4.K] Assignment 5(due November 9 )
Solution Set 5
Chapter7: Geometric Optics [version 1001.1.K] [version 1107.2.K] [version 1107.4.K] Assignment 6(due Nov 16)
Solution Set 6
Chapter 8: Diffraction [version 1008.1.K] [version 1108.1.K] Assignment 7(due Nov 23)
Solution Set 7
Chapter 9: Interference [version 1009.1.K] [version 1109.1.K] Assignment 8(due Dec 5)
Solution Set 8
Chapter 10: Nonlinear Optics [version 1010.1.K] [version 1110.1.K] Assignment 9(empty)
Solution Set 9
Chapter 11: Elastostatics [version 1011.1.K] [version 1111.1.K] Assignment 10(due Jan 11)
Solution Set 10
Chapter 12: Elastodynamics [version 1012.1.K] [version 1112.1.K] [version 1112.2.K] Assignment 11(due Jan 18)
Assignment 12(due Jan 25)
Solution Set 11
Chapter 13: Foundations of Fluid Dynamics [version 1013.1.K] [version 1113.1.K] [version 1113.2.K] Assignment 14(due Feb 1)
Solution Set 12
Chapter 14: Vorticity [version 1014.1.K] [version 1114.1.K] [version 1114.2.K] Assignment 15(due Feb 8
Assignment 16(due Feb 15)
Solution Set 13
Chapter 15: Turbulence [version 1015.1.K] [version 1115.1.K] Assignment 17(due Feb 22)
Solution Set 14
Chapter 16: Waves and Convection [version 1016.1.K] [version 1116.1.K] Assignment 18
(due Feb 29)
Solution Set 15
Chapter 17: Compressible and Supersonic Flow [version 1017.1.K] [version 1117.1.K] Assignment 19
(due March 7)
Solution Set 16A
Chapter 18: Magnetohydrodynamics [version 1018.1.K] [version 1118.1.K]
Chapter 19: Particle Kinetics of Plasma [version 1019.1.K] [version 1119.1.K] Assignment 20
(due April 11)
Solution Set 18
Chapter 20: Waves in Cold Plasmas: Two-Fluid Formalism [version 1020.1.K] [version 1120.2.K] [version 1120.3.K] Homework 21
(due April 18)
Solution Set 19-20
Chapter 21: Kinetic Theory of Warm Plasmas [version 1021.1.K] [version 1121.1.K] Homework 22
(due April 25)
Chapter 22: Nonlinear Dynamics of Plasmas [version 1022.1.K] [version 1122.1.K] Homework 23
(due May 2)
Solution Set 21
Chapter 23: From Special to General Relativity [version 1023.1.K], [version 1123.1.K] Homework 24
(due May 9)
Solution Set 22
Chapter 24: Fundamental Concepts of General Relativity [version 1024.1.K], [version 1124.1.K] [version 1124.2.K] Homework 25
(due May 16)
Solution Set 23
Chapter 25: Stars and Black Holes [version 1025.1.K] [version 1125.1.K] Homework 26
(due May 23)
Solution Set 24
Chapter 26: Gravitational Waves and Experimental Tests of General Relativity [version 1026.1.K] [version 1126.2.K] Homework 27
(due May 30)
Solution Set 25
Chapter 27: Cosmology [version 1027.1.K] [version 1127.1.K] Homework 26
(due XXXX)
Solution Set 26

Last update: September 21, 2011