© 2013

Special Relativity


Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 1-28
  3. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 29-57
  4. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 59-70
  5. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 71-110
  6. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 111-135
  7. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 137-169
  8. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 171-190
  9. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 191-199
  10. Valerio Faraoni
    Pages 201-227
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 243-304

About this book


This book offers an essential bridge between college-level introductions and advanced graduate-level books on special relativity. It begins at an elementary level, presenting and discussing the basic concepts normally covered in college-level works, including the Lorentz transformation. Subsequent chapters introduce the four-dimensional worldview implied by the Lorentz transformations, mixing time and space coordinates, before continuing on to the formalism of tensors, a topic usually avoided in lower-level courses. The book’s second half addresses a number of essential points, including the concept of causality; the equivalence between mass and energy, including applications; relativistic optics; and measurements and matter in Minkowski spacetime. The closing chapters focus on the energy-momentum tensor of a continuous distribution of mass-energy and its covariant conservation; angular momentum; a discussion of the scalar field of perfect fluids and the Maxwell field; and general coordinates.
Every chapter is supplemented by a section with numerous exercises, allowing readers to practice the theory. These exercises constitute an essential part of the textbook, and the solutions to approximately half of them are provided in the appendix.


Covariant Tensors Doppler Effect Global Positioning System Levi-Civita Symbol Lorentz Transformation Minkowski Spacetime Perfect Fluids Positron Emission Tomography Relativistic Optics Spacetime Diagrams Undergraduate Textbook Special Relativity

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Physics DepartmentBishop's UniversitySherbrookeCanada

About the authors

Valerio Faraoni earned a BSc in Physics (Laurea in Fisica) at the University of Pavia, Italy, and an MSc and PhD (1991) in Astrophysics under the supervision of Prof. George F.R. Ellis at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy ( He has held various research and teaching appointments at the University of Victoria, B.C., the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India, the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, and the University of Northern British Columbia. He came to Bishop's University in 2005, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the physics department.

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

“The book is one of the best texts in special relativity designed for readers between the college-level and advanced level. … A number of useful and new examples is added at the end of every chapter of the book. … A very useful table of constants is added at the end of the book. … The book represents one of the best conspects in special relativity and is useful for professors of special relativity. It is good for students and every other reader.” (Alex Gaina, zbMATH, Vol. 1277, 2014)