Academic Year 2008-2009: Fall, Winter, and Spring Terms


Kip Thorne. 154 W. Bridge Annex X4598. Email:
Office hours: Mondays, 4:00 PM in the Koonin Reading Room, 108 East Bridge.

Administrative Assistants to Kip and to TAPIR:

For course issues and to make appointments with Kip: JoAnn Boyd. 161 West Bridge. X4280. Email:
For tapir issues: Shirley Hampton. 151 Bridge Annex. X4597. Email:

Teaching Assistants for Second Term:

Dan Grin. 158 West Bridge, X2684,
Nate Bode. 158 West Bridge, X2685,

Office hours: Tuesday, 7:10 PM to 9:00 PM, TAPIR Interaction Room (319 Cahill)
Nate and Dan will alternate office hours weekly

Old Website for the Academic Year 2006-2007


Lectures will be Mondays, 10:30AM-11:55AM in 269 Lauritsen, and Wednesdays, 9:00AM-10:25AM in the same location.



This year long course will be following the unpublished textbook by Roger Blandford and Kip Thorne, included below. First term will cover chapters 1 through 9 which will, broadly speaking, include special relativity, statistical physics, and optics. In the winter term the next nine chapters (10 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 Blandford and 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 revising this textbook. The versions "04..." and "06..." of each chapter, below, are from previous years 2004-05 and 2006-07 of this course. A new "08...." version of each chapter will be provided on the Wednesday evening that Kip finishes lecturing about it, if not before. Homework problems will be drawn from the new "08..." version of each chapter, so do not rely on the earlier versions when working on the problems.

Kip 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 the 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 0800.1.K] Course Description Questionnaire
Chapter 1: Physics in Euclidean Space and Flat Spacetime: Geometric Viewpoint [Version 0401.2.K] [Version 0601.2.K] [Version 0801.1.K] Assignment 1(due Wed. Oct. 8)
Solution Set 1
Chapter 2: Kinetic Theory [version 0402.2.K] [Version 0602.1.K] [Version 0802.1.K] Assignment 2(due Wed. Oct. 15)
Solution Set 2
Chapter 3: Statistical Mechanics [version 0403.2.K] [version 0603.1.K][version 0803.1.K] Assignment 3(due Wed. Oct. 22)
Solution Set 3
Chapter 4: Statistical Thermodynamics [version 0404.1.K][version 0804.1.K] Assignment 4(due Wed. Oct. 29)
Solution Set 4
Chapter 5: Random Processes [version 0405.1.K][version 0805.1.K] Assignment 5(due Wed. Nov. 5)
Solution Set 5
Chapter6: Geometric Optics [version 0406.4.K] [version 0806.1.K][version 0806.2.K] Assignment 6(due Wed. Nov. 12)
Solution Set 6
Chapter 7: Diffraction [version 0407.1.K][version 0807.1.K] Assignment 7(due Wed. Nov. 19)
Solution Set 7
Chapter 8: Interference [version 0408.2.K] [version 0808.1.K] [version 0808.2.K] Assignment 8(due Wed. Nov. 26)
Solution Set 8
Chapter 9: Nonlinear Optics [version 0409.1.K] [version 0809.1.K] Assignment 9(due Wed. Dec. 3)
Solution Set 9
Chapter 10: Elastostatics [version 0610.2.K] [version 0810.2.K] [version 0810.3.K] Assignment 10(due Wed. Jan. 14)
Solution Set 10
Chapter 11: Elastodynamics [version 0611.1.K] [version 0811.1.K], Assignment 11(due Wed. Jan. 21)
Solution Set 11
Chapter 12: Foundations of Fluid Dynamics [version 0612.2.K][version 0812.1.K] Assignment 12a(due Wed. Jan. 28)
Solution Set 12
Chapter 13: Vorticity [version 0613.2.K][version 0813.1.K] Assignment 12b-13a(due Wed. Feb. 4)
Solution Set 13
Chapter 14: Turbulence [version 0614.1.K][version 0814.1.K] Assignment 13b-14a(due Wed. Feb. 11)
Solution Set 14
Chapter 15: Waves and Rotating Flows [version 0615.2.K][version 0815.2.K] Homework 15
(due Wed. Feb 18)
Solution Set 15
Chapter 15: Waves and Convection [version 0815.3.K] [version 0815.4.K] Homework 15B
(due Wed. Feb 25)
Solution Set 15B
Chapter 16: Compressible and Supersonic Flow [version 0616.1.K][version 0816.1.K] Homework 15C-16A
(due Wed. Mar 4)
Solution Set 16A
Chapter 17: Magnetohydrodynamics [version 0817.1.K] Homework 16B & 17A
(due Wed. Mar 11)
Solution Set 16B & 17A
Chapter 17: Magnetohydrodynamics [version 0817.2.K] Homework 17B
(due Wed. Mar 18)
Solution Set 17B
Chapter 18: Particle Kinetics of Plasma [version 0818.1.K] Homework 18
(due Wed. April 8)
Solution Set 18
Chapter 19: Waves in Cold Plasmas: Two-Fluid Formalism [version 0819.1.K] Homework 19 & 20
(due Wed. April 15)
Solution Set 19-20
Chapter 20: Kinetic Theory of Warm Plasmas [version 0820.1.K] Homework 19&20
(see above)
Chapter 21: Nonlinear Dynamics of Plasmas [version 0821.1.K],[version 0821.2.K] Homework 21
(due Wed. April 22)
Solution Set 21
Chapter 22: From Special to General Relativity [version 0822.1.K], Homework 22
(due Wed. Apr. 29)
Solution Set 22
Chapter 23: Fundamental Concepts of General Relativity [version 0823.1.K], Homework 23
(due Wed. May 6)
Solution Set 23
Chapter 24: Stars and Black Holes [version 0824.1.K] Homework 24
(due Wed. May 13)
Solution Set 24
Chapter 25: Gravitational Waves and Experimental Tests of General Relativity [version 0825.1.K] Homework 25
(due Wed. May 20)
Solution Set 25
Chapter 26: Cosmology [version 0826.1.K] Homework 26
(due Wed. May 27)
Solution Set 26
Appendix A: Concept-Based Outline of Book [version 0411.1K]
Appendix B: Some Unifying Concepts [version 0411.1K]

Last update: September 29, 2008