International Baccalaureate 

Option A  Relativity 



The Core and Additional Higher Syllabus has topics in each of the four options. You take one of the options. If you are lucky enough to be in a centre with four physics groups, you may have the opportunity to choose the option you do. In most schools and colleges, the tutor will choose it for you. 

Note: The syllabus statements about the following have been omitted for space reasons:
You can find these statements in the syllabus. Guidance shown like this is extra guidance from me, not the syllabus. 

In the exam, you are expected to understand: 

Option A  Relativity 

A.1 The Beginnings of Relativity (Core) 

Understanding 
Applications 
Guidance 
Equations  Link 
Reference frames;
Galilean relativity and Newton’s postulates concerning time and space;

Using the Galilean transformation
equations; Determining whether a force on a charge or current is electric or magnetic in a given frame of reference;

Maxwell’s equations do not need to be described;
Qualitative treatment of electric and magnetic fields as measured
by
Students will be asked to analyse these motions from the point of
view of 

(Basic relativity)
(Electric and magnetic fields)
(Equivalence) 
A.2 The Lorentz Transformation (Core) 

The two postulates of special relativity;
Clock synchronization;
The Lorentz transformations;
Velocity addition;
Invariant quantities (spacetime interval, proper time, proper length and rest mass);
Time dilation;
Length contraction;
The muon decay experiment. 
Using the Lorentz transformations to describe how different measurements of space and time by two observers can be converted into the measurements observed in either frame of reference;
Using the Lorentz transformation equations to show that if two events are simultaneous for one observer but happen at different points in space, then the events are not simultaneous for an observer in a different reference frame;
Solving problems involving velocity addition;
Deriving the time dilation and length contraction equations using the Lorentz equations;
Solving problems involving time dilation and length contraction;
Solving problems involving the muon decay experiment 
Problems will be limited to one dimension;
Derivation of the Lorentz transformation equations will not be examined;
Muon decay experiments can be used as
evidence for both time dilation and 

(Special Relativity)

A.3 Spacetime Diagrams (Core) 

Spacetime diagrams;
Worldlines;
The twin paradox. 
Representing events on a spacetime diagram as points;
Representing the positions of a moving particle on a spacetime diagram by a curve (the worldline);
Representing more than one inertial reference frame on the same spacetime diagram;
Determining the angle between a worldline for specific speed and the time axis on a spacetime diagram;
Solving problems on simultaneity and kinematics using spacetime diagrams;
Representing time dilation and length contraction on spacetime diagrams;
Describing the twin paradox;
Resolving of the twin paradox through spacetime diagrams. 
Examination questions will refer to spacetime diagrams; these are also known as Minkowski diagrams;
Quantitative questions involving
spacetime diagrams will be limited to
Spacetime diagrams can have t or ct on the vertical axis;
Examination questions may use units in which c = 1. 

(Spacetime Diagrams)

A.4 Relativistic Mechanics (Additional Higher) 

Understanding 
Applications 
Guidance 
Equations  Link 
Total energy and rest energy;
Relativistic momentum;

Describing the laws of conservation of
momentum and conservation of Determining the potential difference necessary to accelerate a particle to a given speed or energy;

Applications will involve relativistic
decays such as calculating the
The symbol m_{0} refers to the invariant rest mass of a particle;
Problems will be limited to one dimension 

(Accelerators)
(Relativistic Mechanics) 
A.5 General Relativity (Additional Higher) 

The equivalence principle;
The bending of light;

Using the equivalence principle to deduce and explain light bending near massive objects;
Using the equivalence principle to deduce and explain gravitational time dilation;
Calculating gravitational frequency shifts;
Describing an experiment in which
gravitational redshift is observed
Calculating the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole;
Applying the formula for gravitational time dilation near the event horizon of a black hole. 
Students should recognize the equivalence principle in terms of accelerating reference frames and freely falling frames. 

(Equivalence)
(Schwarzchild Radius)
Physics 6 Tutorial 20  in preparation. 
I am currently working on the final tutorial of Option A  Relativity. I will have several more tutorials to write to cover the syllabus content for Options B, C, and D. Please be patient. They will come. 