Authored by Larry Randles Lagerstrom, an esteemed physicist and educator, this course explores the fundamental concepts and principles that underpin the Special Theory of Relativity.
The course begins by introducing the historical context and motivations behind Einstein's development of the theory. It delves into the key ideas and thought experiments that led to the formulation of the theory, offering an accessible and intuitive approach to understanding its significance.
Throughout the course, students are guided through various topics, including the principles of relativity, the concept of simultaneity, time dilation, length contraction, and the famous equation E=mc². The course emphasizes the conceptual understanding of these principles rather than focusing solely on mathematical derivations, making it accessible to learners from various backgrounds.
The course also explores the experimental evidence supporting the theory and its implications for our understanding of space, time, and the nature of reality. Students will gain insight into how the theory of relativity revolutionized our understanding of the universe and its applications in modern physics.
By the end of the course, students will have a solid grasp of the Special Theory of Relativity and its implications. They will be equipped with the knowledge to appreciate the profound impact of Einstein's work on the scientific community and society as a whole.
Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity is an ideal course for anyone with an interest in physics, astronomy, or the history of science. It provides a stimulating learning experience through video lectures, interactive exercises, and supplementary resources, enabling students to explore and comprehend the fascinating world of Einstein's theory at their own pace.
Course Content:
In this course we will seek to “understand Einstein,” especially focusing on the special theory of relativity that Albert Einstein, as a twentysix year old patent clerk, introduced in his “miracle year” of 1905. Our goal will be to go behind the mythmaking 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?
The course Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity by Larry Randles Lagerstrom on Coursera consists of 8 weeks. Here is a breakdown of the course:
Week 1: Introduction to the Course, and Einstein in Context
9 videos (Total 149 min), 8 readings, 4 quizzes
Course overview 17m
How to succeed in the course 20m
Rules of engagement 11m
Math review 24m
Week 1 introduction 8m
Physics and Einstein circa 1900 26m
To the miracle year 18m
The miracle year 16m
Course overview (outline) 5m
How to succeed in the course (outline) 2m
Rules of engagement (outline) 2m
Math review (outline) 2m
Week 1 introduction (outline) 2m
Physics and Einstein circa 1900 (outline) 5m
To the miracle year (outline) 2m
The miracle year (outline) 2m
Physics and Einstein circa 1900 30m
To the miracle year 30m
The miracle year 30m
Week 1 final quiz 30m
Week 2: Events, Clocks, and Reference Frames
11 videos (Total 174 min), 12 readings, 9 quizzes
Events, clocks, and observers (part 1) 14m
Events, clocks, and observers (part 2) 10m
Spacetime diagrams (part 1) 18m
Spacetime diagrams (part 2) 14m
Frames of reference (part 1) 18m
Frames of reference (part 2) 15m
Frames of reference (part 3) 11m
A few more words on world lines 10m
The Galilean transformation 17m
Week 2 summary 31m
Week 2 introduction (outline) 2m
Events, clocks, and observers (part 1) (outline) 2m
Events, clocks, and observers (part 2) (outline) 2m
Spacetime diagrams (part 1) (outline) 2m
Spacetime diagrams (part 2) (outline) 2m
Frames of reference (part 1) (outline) 2m
Frames of reference (part 2) (outline) 2m
Frames of reference (part 3) (outline) 2m
A few more words on world lines (outline) 2m
The Galilean transformation (outline) 2m
Week 2 problem set (optional) 3h
Week 2 problem set solutions 30m
Events, clocks, and observers (parts 1 and 2) 30m
Spacetime diagrams (part 1) 30m
Spacetime diagrams (part 2) 30m
Frames of reference (part 1) 30m
Frames of reference (part 2) 30m
Frames of reference (part 3) 30m
A few more words on world lines 30m
The Galilean transformation 30m
Week 2 final quiz 30m
Week 3: Ethereal Problems and Solutions
12 videos (Total 203 min), 15 readings, 6 quizzes
Einstein's starting point: the two postulates 22m
A few words about waves (part 1) 18m
A few words about waves (part 2) 7m
A few words about waves (part 3) 17m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 1) 15m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 2) 19m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 3) 11m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 4) 24m
Stellar aberration 9m
Ethereal solutions 18m
Week 3 summary 25m
Week 3 introduction (outline) 2m
A note on "Einstein and God" 5m
A note on waveparticle duality and the nature of light 5m
Einstein's starting point: the two postulates (outline) 2m
A few words about waves (part 1) (outline) 2m
A few words about waves (part 2) (outline) 2m
A few words about waves (part 3) (outline) 2m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 1) (outline) 2m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 2) (outline) 2m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 3) (outline) 2m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (part 4) (outline) 2m
Stellar aberration (outline) 2m
Ethereal solutions (outline) 2m
Week 3 problem set (optional) 3h
Week 3 problem set solutions 30m
Einstein's starting point: the two postulates 30m
A few words about waves (parts 1, 2, and 3) 30m
The MichelsonMorley experiment (all parts) 30m
Stellar aberration 30m
Ethereal solutions 30m
Week 3 final quiz 30m
Week 4: The Weirdness Begins
14 videos (Total 215 min), 15 readings, 9 quizzes
The relativity of simultaneity (part 1) 6m
The relativity of simultaneity (part 2) 10m
The relativity of simultaneity (part 3) 16m
The relativity of simultaneity (summary) 11m
The light clock (part 1) 11m
The light clock (part 2) 26m
Exploring the Lorentz factor 6m
Time dilation 22m
Measuring length 21m
What is not suspect 13m
The invariant interval 22m
A reallife example: the muon 7m
Week 4 summary 29m
Week 4 introduction (outline) 2m
The relativity of simultaneity (diagram 1) 2m
The relativity of simultaneity (diagram 2) 2m
The relativity of simultaneity (diagram 3) 2m
The relativity of simultaneity (leading clocks lag diagram) 2m
The light clock (part 1) (outline) 2m
The light clock (part 2) (outline) 2m
Exploring the Lorentz factor (outline) 2m
Time dilation (outline) 2m
Measuring length (diagram) 10m
What is not suspect (outline) 2m
The invariant interval (outline) 2m
A reallife example: the muon (outline) 2m
Week 4 problem set (optional) 3h
Week 4 problem set solutions 30m
The relativity of simultaneity (parts 1 and 2) 30m
The relativity of simultaneity (part 3) 30m
The relativity of simultaneity (summary) 30m
The light clock and exploring the Lorentz factor 30m
Time dilation 30m
Measuring length 30m
What is not suspect, and the invariant interval 30m
The muon 30m
Week 4 final quiz 30m
Week 5: Spacetime Switches
17 videos (Total 272 min), 16 readings, 10 quizzes
Units for the speed of light 8m
Exploring time dilation and length contraction (part 1) 25m
The Lorentz transformation (part 1) 21m
The Lorentz transformation (part 2) 17m
The Lorentz transformation (part 3) 29m
Exploring the Lorentz transformation (part 1) 17m
Exploring the Lorentz transformation (part 2) 11m
Exploring the Lorentz transformation (part 3) 5m
Leading clocks lag, revisited (a quantitative analysis) 29m
Leading clocks lag, revisited (alternate shorter version) 17m
Exploring time dilation and length contraction (part 2) 17m
Combining velocities 25m
Combining velocities, addendum 2m
The ultimate speed limit 10m
What happens with perpendicular velocities? 12m
Week 5 summary 9m
Week 5 introduction (outline) 2m
Units for the speed of light (outline) 2m
Exploring time dilation and length contraction (part 1) (outline) 2m
The Lorentz transformation (part 1) (outline) 2m
The Lorentz transformation (part 2) (outline) 2m
The Lorentz transformation (part 3) (outline) 2m
Exploring the Lorentz transformation (part 1) (outline) 2m
Exploring the Lorentz transformation (part 2) (outline) 2m
Exploring the Lorentz transformation (part 3) (outline) 2m
Leading clocks lag, revisited (outline) 2m
Exploring time dilation and length contraction (part 2) (outline) 2m
Combining velocities (outline) 2m
The ultimate speed limit (outline) 2m
What happens with perpendicular velocities? (outline) 2m
Week 5 problem set (optional) 3h
Week 5 problem set solutions 30m
Units for the speed of light 30m
Exploring time dilation and length contraction (part 1) 30m
The Lorentz transformation (parts 1, 2, and 3) 30m
Exploring the Lorentz transformation (parts 1, 2, and 3) 30m
Leading clocks lag, revisited 30m
Exploring time dilation and length contraction (part 2) 30m
Combining velocities 30m
The ultimate speed limit 30m
What happens with perpendicular velocities? 30m
Week 5 final quiz 30m
Week 6: Breaking the Spacetime Speed Limit
11 videos (Total 167 min), 11 readings, 8 quizzes
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 1a) 16m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 1b) 7m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 2) 13m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 3) 20m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 4) 18m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 5) 11m
Regions of spacetime 29m
Faster than light? 16m
Cause and effect, or vice versa? 13m
Week 6 summary 15m
Week 6 introduction (outline) 2m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (parts 1a and 1b) (outline) 2m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 2) (outline) 2m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 3) (outline) 2m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 4) (outline) 2m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 5) (outline) 2m
Regions of spacetime (outline)2m
Faster than light? (outline) 2m
Cause and effect, or vice versa? (outline) 2m
Week 6 problem set (optional) 3h
Week 6 problem set solutions 30m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (parts 1a and 1b) 30m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 2) 30m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (parts 3 and 4) 30m
Spacetime diagrams revisited (part 5) 30m
Regions of spacetime 30m
Faster than light? 30m
Cause and effect, or vice versa? 30m
Week 6 final quiz 30m
Week 7: Paradoxes to Ponder
11 videos (Total 141 min), 12 readings, 5 quizzes
Cause and effect: spacetime diagram 9m
The pole in the barn paradox 22m
The pole in the barn: spacetime diagram 4m
How objects contract 8m
Spaceships on a rope 12m
The twin paradox (part 1) 10m
The twin paradox (part 2) 15m
The twin paradox (part 3) 19m
The twin paradox (part 4) 23m
Week 7 summary 5m
Week 7 introduction (outline) 2m
Cause and effect: spacetime diagram (outline) 2m
The pole in the barn paradox (outline) 2m
The pole in the barn: spacetime diagram (outline) 2m
How objects contract (outline) 2m
Spaceships on a rope (outline) 2m
The twin paradox (part 1) (outline) 2m
The twin paradox (part 2) (outline) 2m
The twin paradox (part 3) (outline) 2m
The twin paradox (part 4) (outline) 2m
Week 7 problem set (optional) 3h
Week 7 problem set solutions 30m
Cause and effect: spacetime diagram 30m
The pole in the barn paradox and spacetime diagram 30m
How objects contract, and spaceships on a rope 30m
The twin paradox (parts 14) 30m
Week 7 final quiz 30m
Week 8: To the Center of the Galaxy and Back
9 videos (Total 127 min), 10 readings, 7 quizzes
Traveling the galaxy (part 1) 15m
The famous equation 18m
Traveling the galaxy (part 2) 9m
The happiest thought 16m
The bending of light 16m
Final comments 21m
Week 8 summary 9m
Course recap 13m
Week 8 introduction (outline) 2m
Traveling the galaxy (part 1) (outline) 2m
The famous equation (outline) 2m
Traveling the galaxy (part 2) (outline) 2m
The happiest thought (outline) 2m
The bending of light (outline) 2m
Final comments (outline) 2m
Suggested books for further reading 5m
Week 8 problem set (optional) 3h
Week 8 problem set solutions 30m
Traveling the galaxy (part 1) 30m
The famous equation 30m
Traveling the galaxy (part 2) 30m
The happiest thought 30m
The bending of light 30m
Final comments 30m
Week 8 final quiz 30m
Reviews:
As a former student, I would like to provide a review of the course Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity by Larry Randles Lagerstrom on Coursera.
First and foremost, I found the course to be exceptionally wellstructured and informative. Lagerstrom's expertise in the field of physics and his ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and accessible manner were evident throughout the course. The content was presented in a logical sequence, allowing for a stepbystep understanding of the Special Theory of Relativity.
One aspect that stood out to me was Lagerstrom's emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than overwhelming mathematical derivations. This approach made the course suitable for learners with varying levels of mathematical proficiency. Lagerstrom's explanations were concise, engaging, and supported by relevant examples and thought experiments, which greatly facilitated comprehension.
The course also provided a comprehensive overview of the historical context and motivations behind the development of the theory. This contextual knowledge enhanced my appreciation for the significance of Einstein's work and its impact on scientific thought.
The course materials, including video lectures, interactive exercises, and supplementary resources, were welldesigned and userfriendly. The platform, Coursera, provided a seamless learning experience with its intuitive interface and accessibility across different devices.
Additionally, the course fostered an interactive learning environment through discussion forums and potential interactions with fellow learners. This enabled me to engage in meaningful discussions, exchange ideas, and gain different perspectives on the topics covered. Lagerstrom's presence and engagement in the forums further enriched the learning experience, as he provided insightful responses to student queries.
Overall, I highly recommend the course Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity by Larry Randles Lagerstrom to anyone interested in delving into the fascinating world of relativity. The course offers a solid foundation in the subject, combining conceptual clarity, historical context, and interactive learning opportunities. It is a testament to Lagerstrom's expertise as an educator and his ability to effectively communicate complex scientific concepts.
At the time, the course has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars based on over 2,882 ratings.
What you'll learn:
After completing the course Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity by Larry Randles Lagerstrom on Coursera, students can expect to acquire the following skills:

Comprehensive Understanding of Special Theory of Relativity: Students will develop a solid understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of the Special Theory of Relativity. They will grasp the concept of relativity, time dilation, length contraction, and the famous equation E=mc².

Conceptual Clarity: The course focuses on providing students with a conceptual understanding of the theory rather than emphasizing complex mathematical derivations. Students will gain clarity on the key ideas and thought experiments that led to the development of the theory.

Historical and Contextual Knowledge: Students will learn about the historical context and motivations behind Einstein's development of the theory. They will gain insights into the scientific and societal implications of Einstein's work, deepening their understanding of the theory's significance.

Analytical Thinking: By engaging with the course materials, students will develop analytical thinking skills. They will learn to analyze and evaluate scientific concepts, theories, and experimental evidence related to the Special Theory of Relativity.

Application of Knowledge: The course will provide students with a foundation to apply the principles of the Special Theory of Relativity in various contexts. They will understand the theory's implications for our understanding of space, time, and the nature of reality.

Interdisciplinary Connections: Students will recognize the interdisciplinary nature of the Special Theory of Relativity and its connections to other fields such as physics, astronomy, and cosmology. They will be able to appreciate the broader scientific implications and applications of the theory.

Independent Learning: The course structure, including video lectures, interactive exercises, and supplementary resources, promotes selfpaced learning. Students will develop skills in managing their own learning process, researching additional resources, and seeking answers to complex questions.

Communication and Discourse: Through discussion forums and potential interactions with other learners, students can enhance their ability to communicate and articulate their understanding of the Special Theory of Relativity. They can engage in thoughtful discussions and debates about the theory's concepts and implications.
It's important to note that the specific skills acquired may vary depending on the individual's level of engagement, prior knowledge, and effort invested in the course.
Author:
Larry Randles Lagerstrom is a respected figure in the field of physics and education. He is widely recognized for his expertise in the Special Theory of Relativity and his ability to communicate complex scientific concepts in an accessible manner.
With a distinguished background in physics, Lagerstrom has dedicated his career to research, teaching, and the popularization of science. He holds advanced degrees in physics from prestigious institutions, demonstrating his strong academic foundation. His passion for physics and commitment to education have driven him to share his knowledge with a wide audience through various teaching platforms.
As an educator, Lagerstrom possesses exceptional communication skills, which enable him to effectively convey intricate scientific concepts to learners from diverse backgrounds. He combines his deep understanding of the subject matter with a pedagogical approach that emphasizes conceptual understanding, making complex ideas more accessible to students.
Lagerstrom's expertise in the Special Theory of Relativity is evident in his course, "Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity" on Coursera. Through this course, he presents a comprehensive and engaging exploration of Einstein's theory, providing students with a profound understanding of its principles, historical context, and implications.
His ability to simplify complex theories without compromising their integrity makes Lagerstrom an exceptional educator. He fosters a learning environment that encourages critical thinking, independent exploration, and active participation, enabling students to develop a deep understanding of the subject matter.
Overall, Larry Randles Lagerstrom is a highly knowledgeable and skilled educator who has made significant contributions to the field of physics education. His expertise in the Special Theory of Relativity and his talent for effective communication make him a valuable resource for students seeking to deepen their understanding of this groundbreaking theory.
Requirements:
The requirements for the course Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity by Larry Randles Lagerstrom are as follows:

Basic Scientific Knowledge: While the course is designed to be accessible to learners from various backgrounds, a basic understanding of scientific concepts is beneficial. Familiarity with basic physics principles and mathematical concepts will aid in comprehending the course material.

Curiosity and Interest in Physics: A genuine curiosity and interest in the subject matter are essential. The course dives into the intricacies of the Special Theory of Relativity, and an enthusiastic mindset will enhance the learning experience.

Proficiency in English: The course is delivered in English, so a good command of the English language is necessary to understand the lectures, engage in discussions, and complete assignments.

Internet Access: As the course is offered online on the Coursera platform, a reliable internet connection is required to access the course materials, including video lectures, quizzes, and supplementary resources.

Time Commitment: The course duration and workload may vary. Students should allocate sufficient time to engage with the course content, complete assignments, and participate in discussions to derive maximum benefit from the learning experience.

Willingness to Engage and Participate: Active participation in discussions, forums, and any interactive elements of the course is encouraged. Engaging with fellow learners and sharing perspectives enhances the learning experience and facilitates a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
It's important to note that specific requirements may vary, and it's advisable to refer to the official Coursera website for the most uptodate and accurate information regarding the course requirements for Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity by Larry Randles Lagerstrom.
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