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Publisher's Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2017 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Timothy D. Sowell on 12-22-17

About More Than Just His Mistakes

While these lectures do indeed concern some mistakes Einstein made, there is a lot of background material on his work that is very interesting. Professor Hooper is a very engaging speaker and obviously well versed in the subject matter. If you have any interest in The General Theory of Relativity, Einstein's life and work, or the history of Physics in general, I think you will enjoy this work very much. I know I did!

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Hendrick Mcdonald on 04-25-18

Journey thru modern physics

A good series of lectures provide an overview of many ideas of modern physics. From relativity to black holes, the expansion of space and the big bag, to quantum physics and its super positions thru entanglement and shares the story of Einstein’s part in all of these.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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