final exam format

The exam will be 2 hours long, and will consist in 2 sections, A and B. There will be questions testing you on what you have learned over the last 4 weeks of the course. You should consult both the Maudlin text and the posted Lecture Notes for your revision.

You can expect questions on anything in the Lecture Notes, but you will not be tested on the following sections from Maudlin:

ch. 4: 87-105 (constructing Lorentz coordinates); ch. 5; ch 6 146-151 (The Hole Argument)

The following questions are examples of the type of questions to expect, and may or may not be on the exam:

SECTION A: TRUE or FALSE?                                                                  [50 marks]

ANSWER ANY 5 of the following 10 QUESTIONS —these numbers may vary

In each case, state whether the statement made is TRUE or FALSE, and give justification for your answer in 2 to 4 succinct sentences: 

Example :“0. Leibniz anticipated Einstein’s relativity by holding that the length of time elapsing between two events is relative.”

Answer:: 0. “FALSE: For Leibniz the temporal interval between two events was just as absolute as it was for Newton. He held that space and time were relational, that they were systems of spatial or temporal relations, not that spatial and temporal intervals are relative to frame of reference.”

1. Newton was the first to propose that in the absence of an impressed force, a body will continue to move with the same speed in a straight line.

2. Descartes’s contention that all motion is relative to whatever object is taken to be at rest is refuted by Newton’s thought experiment with the rotating bucket. 

3. Mach held that the water in Newton's bucket was rotating relative to the fixed stars.

4. Einstein proved that all physical quantities are relative.

5. …


SECTION B                                                                                           [50 marks]

ANSWER ANY 2 of the following 5 QUESTIONS in the form of a brief essay.

In each case try to give a thorough yet succinct discussion, identifying the main points at issue. Your answer to each should be roughly 4 or 5 pages long in the exam book.

Again, the following questions are examples of the type of questions to expect, and may or may not be on the exam:

1.THE TWIN PARADOX: What is the Twin Paradox of Special Relativity? Explain how the twins come to be different ages when they reconnect despite the fact that they infer identical time dilations in one another’s clocks while they are moving inertially with respect to each other. How does the distinction between co-ordinate time and proper time resolve the paradox?

2. CURVED SPACETIME: How was Einstein led to conclude that spacetime is curved? Describe Einstein’s Equivalence Principle (EP) and its classical precedents (such as the Weak EP). Explain how the bending of light and the blue-shifting of light down a gravitational field both follow from applications of the Equivalence Principle.

3. SCIENTIFIC LAWS: On a Humean account of the status of scientific laws, they are nothing more than succinct descriptions of regularities in nature, involving no necessity. Describe and evaluate the objections that have been made to such accounts and by whom, as well as rival conceptions of scientific law that have been proposed in their place.


© Richard T. W. Arthur 2016