Volver a Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

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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!)....

JJ

21 de mar. de 2020

Thanks for helping me understand the Special Theory of Relativity, covered a lot of ground but repeated it so it really could sink in. Like your style and want to thank you for your assistance. Thanks

SS

8 de dic. de 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.

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por John R

•16 de sep. de 2017

Excellent presentation, clearly explained in generic language some of the esoteric concepts of the Special Theory of Relativity. In my Physics IV class, fifty years ago, we called this "Science Fiction I." I enjoyed the course. Only downside, I would think that a University with the standing of Stanford would produce a presentation that would use digital graphics instead of a white board and dry erase marker. With the capabilities of computer programming, this course could be greatly enhanced in the audio/visual area.

por Bhushan J

•9 de ago. de 2017

In my view the course was a great exposure to Special Theory of Relativity and superbly conducted by Prof. Lagerstrom. I think some more rigor could be brought into as 'optional modules' and in the optional problem sets. There are some places where explanation could be elaborated or made clearer further in my view. Nonetheless for anyone who wants to know something about Special Theory (and vet intellectual appetite further), I would recommend this is a good place to start. Thank you!

por Prasad S

•13 de jul. de 2018

At first, it really seems to be very slow paced, but latter you realize that those initial concepts were so key to the analysis and concepts in during latter lectures. The professor seemed to be very dedicated, and taught everything from the ground-up; which was really a help and thus, there does not arises a moment when you seriously struggle about the topic being discussed. HATS OFF to the professor for teaching in such a simplistic and conceivable fashion.

por Ameya K

•10 de may. de 2021

Pros: Everything is explained very well, to the point that even middle schoolers should be able to get it. It makes a university topic seem easy, which is impressive.

Cons: The course is very very long, and often feels very repetitive. A lot of videos don't seem necessary, and could have been shortened to half their length. Also, Week 1 is completely skippable because it doesn't actually teach anything about SR, just about Einstein's life.

por Lior S

•17 de ene. de 2017

This was a great course which is taught by a passionate and patient lecturer. The whole 8 weeks covers the first half of Einstein's famous paper in detail. The pace can be slow, but of course you can always speed up the videos. The mathematics is very approachable - school level algebra is all you need. The only other prerequisite is a basic understanding of light and electromagnetic waves.

por Kelly S

•20 de dic. de 2020

Good content, but too much focus on Einstein himself and philosophy. Could do with a little bit more of the math side of things, but I'm biased in that regard as already having finished my bachelors in aeronautical engineering. Spent too much time going over the examples, but they were well constructed and yielded a lot of insight.

por Floris v d P

•9 de dic. de 2016

A comprehensive introduction to the subject, somewhat spoiled by the unrelenting reiteration of the most basics concepts in the earlier parts of the course. A bit of a pity, since the lecturer is a fairly engaging speaker when he is not busy interrupting the flow of his argument with mind–numbing repetition.

por Deleted A

•18 de dic. de 2017

The content is really good. The quality of the content is excellent. The instructor's pedagogical skills are excellent as well.

The only criticism I have is with the length of the videos. I feel they could be shortened. Other than that, one of the best introductory courses for Special Relativity.

por Mitchell D

•12 de oct. de 2020

I think very highly of the course, and the professor, with one quibble: The professor had some difficulty talking in full sentences, which I found frustrating and annoying. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the experience, and believe that my understanding of Einstein's theories is certainly improved.

por Mahesh U

•21 de feb. de 2017

Not much of mathematical inclination. But the Prof. is really of high standard and he makes sure that you understand everything by the end of any topic as he will run by each topic more than once. Its an introductory course but induces a great amount of interest to learn more!

por Anthony B

•24 de mar. de 2017

Very good introductory course, clear and well designed, with a nice emphasis on the key concepts of the special theory of relativity. The mathematical background required is very light, hence the quantitative analysis of various examples and situations is limited.

por Felix M

•25 de abr. de 2020

A brilliant course. I got everything I wanted to out of it by the end, but one thing I would say is that it started off a little slow, particularly in weeks 2 and 3. All things considered, a great way to build a better understanding of special relativity.

por Ahmad S M

•7 de may. de 2020

one of the best courses that I have taken so far from Coursera (and I took a lot). Easy, step by step mathematically, engaging in particular in discussion forums, Definitely recommended to anyone who has the least interest in theoretical physics!

por Ilan M

•24 de sep. de 2017

The course gives you a good qualitative understantding of special relativity as well as the historical context in which Einstein came up with the theory. The course is easy to engage with, even if you don't have much physics knowledge.

por Frantisek B

•12 de sep. de 2019

Love the course as its a interesting insight into the world of physics.

What i dont think was effective was the multiple choice quizzes as you could just glide through them without applying the knowledge you learned in any new way.

por Zach J

•29 de nov. de 2016

Very in Depth for if it is your first time learning. If you have already read about General and Special Relativity it doesn't tell you very much more than what you already know. Either way it is a great course.

por Alexander S

•26 de mar. de 2017

I disliked really slow speed of formulas derivation, simple operations like cancelling out terms are done in multiple steps. Like for children that only starting study mathematics. Otherwise great course!

por Tiffany O M B - R

•2 de may. de 2017

Than You so much this course has really influenced my life at such great heights

It has also made me give more recognition to our Bible Family for all their great accomplishments.

por Doug Q

•21 de sep. de 2020

Felt a bit like I was being talked down to at the beginning as he tried to tell me how to study and take the course. Got much better after he just started to teach us concepts.

por Ashwini K S

•21 de sep. de 2020

I loved the course. I gained a lot from this. Want to learn more mathematics and wish could learn General theory from the same team. Thank you soo much. Great work.

por Aidan K

•27 de feb. de 2020

Quite hard work - the topic is not intuitive, and the questions teem with the possibility of going wrong - badly wrong.

Effort is required, and is paid-back.

por Ritvik A

•23 de nov. de 2017

It's a good course to start understanding Relativistic Physics. Nothing rigorous though.

The lectures are amazingly easy to understand. Overall liked it.

por luis a g s

•12 de oct. de 2017

I think a chapter on momentum and energy conservation would be interesting, I liked the examples and the treatment of the paradoxes, very good course.

por hei c

•21 de jul. de 2018

a very thorough introduction to special relativity, as a layman, I have gained immense insight & basic understanding. Thanks prof Lagerstrom!!!!

por Krish R

•22 de jun. de 2017

The course was really good. But the discussion forum was not pleasant. Due to the unruly behaviour of this person named Thomas Lahn

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