These 12 half-hour lectures are about what Einstein got wrong. He may have kindled a scientific revolution with his famous theory of relativity and his proof that atoms and light quanta exist, but he balked at accepting the most startling implications of these theories - such as the existence of black holes, the big bang, gravity waves, and mind-bendingly strange phenomena in the quantum realm. In a course that assumes no background in science and uses very little math, research physicist Dan Hooper of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Chicago focuses on Einstein's personal qualities that made him a heavy hitter with relativity but also a strikeout king in many of his other ideas.
You start with two lectures on Einstein's special and general theories of relativity, and in a later lecture you cover his founding role in quantum theory. All are titanic achievements. The balance of the course deals with his false starts, blind alleys, and outright blunders, which are fascinating for what they reveal about the give-and-take conduct of science. For example, the possibility of black holes, which are infinitely dense concentrations of matter, emerged from the equations of general relativity. However, the idea seemed so absurd to Einstein that he believed something in nature must prevent black holes from forming. He was wrong. Similar considerations led him to doubt the existence of gravity waves, insist that the universe must be static and eternal, and hold out for a deterministic theory that would solve the weird paradoxes of quantum mechanics. Again, he was wrong. Dr. Hooper closes with a lecture on the missteps of other great physicists - Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton - proving that Einstein is in good company. Even geniuses struggle to find the truth.
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