In this course we will seek to “understand Einstein,” especially focusing on the special theory of relativity that Albert Einstein, as a twenty-six year old patent clerk, introduced in his “miracle year” of 1905. Our goal will be to go behind the myth-making and beyond the popularized presentations of relativity in order to gain a deeper understanding of both Einstein the person and the concepts, predictions, and strange paradoxes of his theory. Some of the questions we will address include: How did Einstein come up with his ideas? What was the nature of his genius? What is the meaning of relativity? What’s “special” about the special theory of relativity? Why did the theory initially seem to be dead on arrival? What does it mean to say that time is the “fourth dimension”? Can time actually run more slowly for one person than another, and the size of things change depending on their velocity? Is time travel possible, and if so, how? Why can’t things travel faster than the speed of light? Is it possible to travel to the center of the galaxy and return in one lifetime? Is there any evidence that definitively confirms the theory, or is it mainly speculation? Why didn’t Einstein win the Nobel Prize for the theory of relativity?
About the instructor: Dr. Larry Lagerstrom is the Director of Academic Programs at Stanford University’s Center for Professional Development, which offers graduate certificates in subjects such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, data mining, nanotechnology, innovation, and management science. He holds degrees in physics, mathematics, and the history of science, has published a book and a TED Ed video on "Young Einstein: From the Doxerl Affair to the Miracle Year," and has had over 30,000 students worldwide enroll in his online course on the special theory of relativity (this course!).
Introduction to the Course, and Einstein in Context
-Week 1: Introduction to the Course, and Einstein in Context
Events, Clocks, and Reference Frames
-Week 2: Events, Clocks, and Reference Frames
Ethereal Problems and Solutions
-Week 3: Ethereal Problems and Solutions
The Weirdness Begins
-Week 4: The Weirdness Begins
-Week 5: Spacetime Switches
Breaking the Spacetime Speed Limit
-Week 6: Breaking the Spacetime Speed Limit
Paradoxes to Ponder
-Week 7: Paradoxes to Ponder
To the Center of the Galaxy and Back
-Week 8: To the Center of the Galaxy and Back
Excellent and enthusiastic lecturer. Plenty of theoretical practice quizzes. The technical side of the course is quite elementary. If you follow the lectures and do the practice problems you should be able to get close to full marks. A great introduction to special relativity overall.
Prof 's way of teaching is just perfect. step by step so anyone can follow although Einstein is a challenge. Thanks a lot. As a matter of fact, I am just waiting for a quantum mechanic course by Prof. Lagerstrom.
I took this course as I was interested in Einstein's theory of relativity but knew very little about it. In fact I did not know that there are two theories, Special and General.
I was also intimidated by the amount of math that had to be involved.
I was glad I took this special theory course. Professor Lagerstroum took a complex subject and explained it in simple terms that was easy to understand.
He followed one of Einsteins quotes "keep it simple but not too simple" and with a very down to earth approach explained a lot of the complex math that is involved without expecting the student to memorize how equations are derived just to know how to use the equations.
This was one of the few courses I can say I truly enjoyed and now have a better understanding of the special theory of relativity.
I wish he had one on the general theory as well as Quantum mechanics.
Kristinacompleted this course and found the course difficulty to be medium.
I've been waiting for this one for so long! It hasn't been offered for quite a while, and now it's back on the self-paced platform. Its workload is sometimes overwhelming, but it's worthwhile. The instructor is amazing, and I loved the weekly quotations and context. You'll learn about technological context, cultural one, and even about Einstein as a person, but you'll also dive into mathematics (don't worry, it's not complicated). Extremely difficult topics are schematized and analyzed, and this is the best resource to dive into the wonderful world of relativity. Quizzes aren't challenging, and you can do practice quizzes before the real ones, so it's a piece of cake. However, the lectures themselves are a true treasure. Yay for this course being back!
Mateuszcompleted this course and found the course difficulty to be easy.
A very well done course that takes you by hand through many concepts in physics before introducing the actual the special theory of relativity. I would advice all people to do this course to understand the bigger overall beauty of physics and the world in which we live in. After taking this course, I have a deep understanding of what the theory captures and how it works. Strongly recommend!
Awesome class. To be able to take a subject as complex and counter-intuitive as this and to break it down into understandable units was really amazing. I would have liked to have been able to take it with a friend so that we could have discussed some of the weirder Issues, but unfortunately nobody I knew was interested. However, the discussion forums are themselves very interesting.
Acompleted this course and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Took this course through Coursera when it first came out in 2013. AWESOME teacher! Larry Lagerstrom had gotten numerous awards for his teaching and this course shows why. He explains difficult concepts in a manner that allows anyone to understand them, and he's got visual aids too! ::smile::
I only wish he would do a course on Theory of General Relativity as well.
Nadercompleted this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
You want to know about how time and space behaves near light speed? You want to know how it all started for relativity (not covering General Relativity yet lays the ground for more understanding). A physics enthusiast? ... this course is for you.