Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity に戻る

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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!)....

Dec 09, 2019

Almost anyone can learn about the special theory of relativity from these lectures. I actually can't believe that I studied from a professor who teaches in the USA and in so simple way. I am grateful.

Jun 23, 2017

This course is very comprehensive and well prepared material for understanding the Special Theory of Relativity. Larry (the instructor) is very expert and has broad knowledge in explaining the course.

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by Michael D

•Dec 07, 2019

Great course - well structured, and expertly guided.

by Abhishek P

•Oct 25, 2019

Amazing course teaches a lot about the universe.

by AMRUTHA S R

•Oct 03, 2019

The most complicated theory was made very easy.

by Parthip P

•Oct 10, 2019

it is a very interesting and unique chapter

by Vasurva W

•Dec 25, 2019

I like the way the instructor explains.

by Ankit S

•Dec 19, 2019

wonderful!! more than as expected

by Mothiswaran

•Dec 23, 2019

Good place to learn

by 林辰昕

•Nov 11, 2019

Everything's nice.

by Mohammad A

•Oct 26, 2019

EXCELLENT

by Raheela S

•Dec 14, 2019

Great for people who have no background in mathematics whatsoever.

by John G

•Jun 26, 2017

Can't believe this course is taught to Stanford students (or any college students). The lecturer is soooo repetitive. He tells you what he's going to tell you, then he tells you and then he recaps. And he summarizes it all at the start of the next lecture. And there's a separate summary lecture at the end of each week. That said, he explains the material well. Cut the lectures by 2/3 and you'll have a 5-star course.

by Peter O

•May 18, 2018

The course was too simple and the derivations too slow. I expected more involved math and harder quizzes.

by sandesh k

•May 17, 2017

no math

by Anand C

•Oct 12, 2018

Loved this course!

This was my first course through Coursera that I completed in full :) and I'm glad I did it. I always was a bit interested in Astrophysics and even had LOTS of books on my shelf in the hope that someday I would start reading and learning - all by myself. But I couldn't gather enough motivation - and so it never really worked out. But after taking up the course and going through the different topics - I feel that I can begin a more serious approach to studying Relativity and can tackle some of the standard books on the subject.

I don't have a background in Physics, but that didn't prove to be a problem while going through the course. I was able to complete each week's contents by spending around 45mts-an hr each day. Was also maintaining my own set of notes - I'm sure I might be looking at them again someday when I'm exploring the subject bit more in depth. The quizzes were somewhat easier that I expected and I'm happy I was able to get some of my doubts clarified promptly through the forums.

My only concern was that a) I would have liked the course to be bit more technical/mathematical and b) I wish I had completed the 'optional problems' too at the end of each week :). But these are not really so critical as it was an introductory course and I didn't have any basic understanding of Relativity prior to this.

Overall I'm happy to have completed my first course , having gained an insight into Einstein's work and taken my first baby steps towards understanding Astrophysics/Cosmology ! Looking forward to see some more related/advanced courses in the same area. Thanks to the Faculty, all the timely help on the Forums & Coursera!

P.S.

Can't wait to show-off my Certificate to everyone !!!

Regards

Anand

by Ben P

•Feb 16, 2017

This fascinating course presented by a historian of science covers not just the basics of special relativity but the historical context as well. The lecturer starts off each week with some Einstein quotes and goes to great depths to explain the basic concepts at a level that is accessible to students with minimal experience of maths and physics. The concepts are firmly drilled in with plenty of optional quizzes after each mini-topic, and a summary video at the end of each week. The lectures are long but anyone short on time has the option to go straight to the weekly summary/quiz, and/or play videos at up to 2x speed (especially in weeks 2 and 3).

The main highlight for me was the explanation of the famous Twins Paradox and other related paradoxes which are resolved by understanding frames of reference and the relativity of simultaneity. Another bonus was an explanation of the bending of light by gravity through a simple thought experiment involving an accelerated elevator.

Some important topics not covered in the course, or only hinted at, are: treatment of accelerated reference frames (required to derive the relativistic rocket equations), relativistic momentum and kinetic energy (required to calculate the rocket fuel required) and relativistic energy (used to derive Einstein's mass-energy equivalence formula).

Overall I highly recommend the course to anyone with the time and inclination.

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by Michael M

•Jun 14, 2017

So you're wondering if you have the ability to learn about the Special Theory of Relativity. After all, this theory was developed by a genius and it involves math, something that many people shy away from. Doesn't it take a background in physics and confidence in your math ability to get something out of the class? No. The remarkable thing about this class is that is presented at multiple levels simultaneously. If you are confident in your knowledge of physics and math, the explanations and optional exercises will be a welcome challenge. At the same time, the general concepts are explained in such a manner that you'll learn enough about the Special Theory of Relativity to get the "big picture" even if you don't immerse yourself in the mathematics. From there you can learn about it in more detail, if you wish. The test for me in taking any class is whether I'm able to explain the concepts to someone else in casual conversation. This course certainly met the test.

by Nicolás F C

•Sep 01, 2017

This course was exactly what I was looking for to get a good understanding of the Special Theory of Relativity for a non-specialist. The course progression was very good, building new concepts on top of the previous ones. The video lectures were lively and well presented. The difficulty level and the required math skills were exactly what the course description indicated.

I recommend future students to take this course at a steady pace, and to allocate enough time to take notes, to review the concepts and to go back if necessary. Don’t rush through it. It is very useful to try to solve the optional problem sets. The main difficulty is not related with the math, but with the relationship between the equations and the physical phenomena they describe.

I am 100% satisfied with this course. As a matter of fact, I plan to go again through my notes to make my own personal recap of the main concepts and formulas.

Thanks a lot to Professor Lagerstrom!

by Sayan s

•Jun 12, 2018

This course is greatly set up by professor LARRY RANDLES LAGERSTROM in such a way that even a high school student can understand these topics in our country.I request the Coursera community to appoint this instructor again for making a course on GENERAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY by taking enough time as required .I know General theory of relativity takes a lot of mathematical background but an attempt should be taken to start from the roots to make the learners get through the topics.Separate mathematics teachers along with professor LARRY should collaborate to make this happen.The already available course on General relativity requires way too pre maths to start .Why not take 2 or 3 years to develop that skill right here by Coursera such that home schooled students can learn the entire course online up here.AS FOR THIS COURSE IT WAS GREAT AND LARRY SIR HAS MOTIVATED ME A LOT TO CONTINUE WORKING ON THIS FROM HERE ON.THANK YOU.

by Nada A A

•Apr 09, 2018

It is a very good course that is well organized and explained. The instructor was extremely great; he uses a lot of examples and thought experiments to help us imagine the situation. Although relativity is such a hard topic to learn for many people, the approach of instruction in this course makes it interesting and easy to be comprehended. After the course, you will find that you have learnt a great amount of knowledge about the topic and you can go into discussions about relativity related issues, even that you don't feel stressed during the course by the enormous amount of materials. Moreover, this course is suitable for anyone interested in the topic, even without much knowledge in physics before, because the course explains everything even the basic concepts.

I learnt A LOT from this course, and it encouraged me to love the topic, get excited about online learning and go even deeper in relativity study.

by GIRISH M D

•Nov 09, 2017

Mr. Larry Randles Lagerstrom is very knowledgeable and he is an excellent teacher. Course is very well designed and presented. The subject matter was enough to get incite into the 'Special Theory of Relativity' and also covered the history of Einstein 's era. I understood most of the things due to Mr. Lagerstrom's way of presenting the facts. Most interestingly, I understood the way things work in the realm of Special Theory of Relativity which was a big question in my mind for long time. Quizzes were very thoughtful and really testing the knowledge gained in the respective lectures. I have not solved the extra questions set given at the end of last few weeks yet but I will do that in near future and in case of doubts I would like to contact Mr. Lagerstrom via e-mail.

I enjoyed it thoroughly and I would like to attend many more such courses. Really thanks and appreciate.

by Justin L

•Apr 25, 2017

This course was truly an excellent way to learn about Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. The content covered most of the main aspects of Special Relativity, and the instructor did a top notch job of explaining how the various aspects of the theory are derived and many implications of the Theory. The maths involved in this course is no more than high-school level algebra with a few tricks, and as such the course should be within most people's reach with a bit of effort. Mind you, the concepts themselves are somewhat counter-intuitive, so be prepared to think a lot about the implications. However, all that being said, I highly recommend this course! It is a very well presented and accessible way to start to grasp Einstein's most profound work in his "miracle year" of 1905.

by Ronald P N

•Nov 13, 2016

Professor Larry Lagerstrom is an exceptional teacher. He explained the Theory of Special Relativity in such a manner that the theory became easy to understand. Not only has the Theory become understandable, he also managed to convey the beauty of the theory. I cannot find words to describe how I have enjoyed the series of lectures. From very simple concepts of the property of waves, he led to a very deep understanding of the principle of Light Constancy. From that principle, it became very easy to understand Time Dilation, the Length Contraction, and then Lorentz Transformation, and finally, the Invariant Interval. The journey he has planned was brilliant. Once one has a firm grasp of those principles, the explanation of the Twin Paradox became a "piece of cake".

by Robert E K P

•Aug 21, 2017

The course was fantastic. I have struggled for years to understand the Special Theory of Relativity and I finally have a good grasp of the theory. The course is not difficult for anyone with at least a fundamental grasp of algebra and should be no problem with more math in their background. I would really like to see a course on the General Theory of Relativity taught by Professor Langerstrom. The lectures were clear and well documented and the short quizzes at the end of each subsection of the class materials really helped to make understanding the material presented easy to comprehend. I'd also love to see a book written by Dr. Langerstrom based on the course. I have a couple around home and they aren't as clear as the material presented in this course.

by zhu w

•Jul 24, 2019

Great experience! I watched dozens of videos regarding special relativity but failed to understand. This course led you step by step with patience and you will have your big bang in the week 3rd. If you can pass week 3rd, you will probably grab the course successfully. My confusion is about the speed limit of light and the concept of relative speed. I raised my questions probably over a dozen rounds and Mr.Larry always give me help with 24 hours. What a great help. My suggestion to the course is : Please add a little bit more about relative speed. Can relative speed exceed C? Because such concept is crucial in my view to go through WEEK 3rd. A/w, great experience and Solute to THE TEAM. Thank

by Anna O

•Oct 11, 2018

Literally the BEST course I've ever taken online! Perfectly structured, very detailed, very accurate and informative. I am a dozen steps closer to my dream of getting properly educated in the field of physics and the realm of exact sciences about the Universe. I enormously admire Prof. Lagerstrom as he's obviously put a lot of effort in preparing all necessary materials, making it all vivid and human with the help of quotes, stories and remarks about Einstein, always making sure the students understand the material and receive and remember it logically structured. Prof. Lagerstrom seems extremely charismatic and engaging to me, I regret this is the only course of his on Coursera. Thank you so much!