The equivalence principle. Weak gravitational field. Geodesic motion. Physical meaning of the metric tensor. Reddening of spectral lines. Inertial forces. Tensors. Covariant derivatives. The Riemann-Christoffel tensor. The energy-momentum tensor. Field equations in the presence of matter. Conservation laws. The Schwarzschild solution: isotropic coordinates; planetary motion; light deflection. The Hubble expansion. The Cosmic Microwave Background radiation. The Friedmann-Robertson-Walker metric.
Experimental issues of Newtonian Gravity. Torsion pendulum as a probe of very weak forces. Experimental tests of LLR and LPI. Gravitomagnetism. Gravitational waves and their detectors. Data analysis techniques. GPS and Relativity. Quantum Non Demolition techniques.
The course "Gravitation" aims at providing the students with basic concepts of gravitational physics, both in theory (Newtonian Gravity and General Relativity) and experimental (state of the art of Gravitational Research)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING:
Students are expected to reach a good level of confidence with fundmental concepts of Relativity and some of its simpler applications, like the weak field approximation, classical tests in the Solar System, collapse and gravitational wave generation. Besides, they will learn basic techniques of measurement of gravitational effects, both in laboratory and in large scale experiments: from torsion pendulum to space-borne interferometers
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING:
Students will be able to identify the essential elements of a physical problem and learn how to analyze it. They will become capable of reading a scientific paper describing an experiment and to present it in class.
Students will learn how to tackle simple calculations or numerical simulations, and design simple laboratory experiments. They will develop the skill to perform bibliographic research on books and journals, and to select material from the Internet. These skils will be acquired during the preparation for the final exam, also expanding in depth a few topics specific for the development of a presentation that is part of the final evaluation
Students will work both by themselves and in groups. They will prepare a presentation on one topic, that will be offered to the course mates, using the standard techniques of scientific talks.