*Abbreviations under the "Available" column: A = Available // NA = Not Available // R = Previously Registered // WL = Currently on the Wait List

Revolutions in Physics: Einstein’s Relativity Theories (with little math)

Albert Einstein alone created both the special and general theories of relativity that changed our perceptions of space, time, matter, and gravity. We’ll examine how his simple postulate in the 1905 special theory paper leads to non-intuitive results. Then we’ll follow Einstein’s “happiest thought” to his 1915 general theory and how it replaces Newton’s law of gravitation.  In 1916 Einstein predicted gravity waves and in 2016 their first detection was announced. We’ll also meet Albert Michelson, the first American scientist to win a Nobel Prize, whose invention of an interferometer played a crucial role in experiments associated with both theories.

Instructor Bio:

John Pribram is professor emeritus of physics at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and lecturer in physics at the University of Virginia where he has taught at least one course in each of ten years. At Bates, aside from teaching almost all the standard undergraduate physics courses, he also developed two physics courses for non-science majors and has taught two similar courses at UVA.

Required Reading:

Wolfson, Richard. Simply Einstein: Relativity Demystified, 2003. This will be our major text and is written for people who may not have had any physics.The book includes both the special and general theories of relativity, and some biographical information on Einstein. Jaffe, Bernard. Michelson and the Speed of Light, 1960. This is a short, older biography that also describes his contributions to physics. Michelson’s interferometer design is explained. We’ll see how that design was used in connection with both relativity theories.

Course Number Instructor Dates Day Time Location Available
B32 John Pribram Apr 20, 27, May 4, 11 Th 10:00-11:30 a.m. Homewood Suites WL

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