“Visualizing Relativity” by Hanson and Weiskopf

  • ©Andrew J. Hanson and Daniel Weiskopf


Entry Number: 15


    Visualizing Relativity

Course Organizer(s):



    Substantial familiarity with conventional mathematical methods of 3D computer graphics and prior exposure to 3D rendering techniques. No prior knowledge of the theories of relativity is required. Attendees may find that some of the material covered in Course 5 provides useful background.

    A geometric, intuitive approach to special relativity. Minkowski diagrams. How relativistic transformations are related to familiar geometric concepts used in 3D rotations. Properties of light under the extreme conditions of both special and general relativity: changes of color, intensity, and direction of light, and gravitational light bending. Relativistic rendering techniques.

    For those who seek a deeper intuitive understanding of the theories of relativity and an introduction to how modern computer graphics techniques can be adapted to visualize and simulate the physics of interacting light and matter under extreme conditions. The first half of the course focuses on how relativistic effects can be intuitively understood starting from Euclidean 3D geometry. The second half concentrates on recent advances in photorealistic simulation of scenes and relativistic phenomena using computer graphics to show features that could never be seen in real life at human time and space scales.