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Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Editition (The Great Courses)

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  224 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
"It doesn't take an Einstein to understand modern physics," says Professor Richard Wolfson at the outset of this course on what may be the most important subject in the universe. Relativity and quantum physics touch the very basis of physical reality, altering our commonsense notions of space and time, cause and effect. Both have reputations for complexity. But the basic i ...more
DVD, 2nd Edition
Published 2000 by The Great Courses
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 412)
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David
Jan 20, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who haven't had a physics class since high school, sci-fi writers
I was a little ambivalent about trying one of these "Great Courses" on audio, especially with references to diagrams and such, but the instructor promised at the beginning that you could follow along at home without needing the pictures, and he was right, though there are points at which it might benefit a listener to pause the lecture long enough to look up the diagram if you are having trouble visualizing what he describes.

This is a course on advanced physics for people who are not physics stu
...more
Lynn
Mar 14, 2009 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the 24 lectures on my ipod. It also came with a little booklet that outlined each lesson and provided visuals. It was really well done since Wolfson is a physics professor and, therefore, teaches this stuff regularly. And I think I'm finally understanding this stuff... It's very fascinating to me, but unfortunately people generally don't want to discuss curved space time or the path an electron takes over dinner.
Chris
Oct 05, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Very good course for non-scientists on Einstein's Theories of Relativity and Quantum Physics. The first few lectures focus on the history of how theories on gravity and motion developed. We are given a good review Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton's contributions as well as Michelson and Morley's 1887 experiment, which was conducted to determine the Earth's motion relative to the supposed "Ether". These lectures set the stage for why Einstein was pondering gravity and motion at the turn of ...more
Motaz Alfarraj
Mar 12, 2014 Motaz Alfarraj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This lecture series presents in simple "words" theories in physics that everyone talks about without knowing the true meaning of, relativity theory and quantum mechanics. It is presented by one Professor Richard Wolfson, one of the brightest scientists in Physics. The series is divided into two parts:
1- Special and general Relativity theory by Albert Einstein:
Brief history about physics starting from Galilean physics, Newtonian physics, them finally, relativity physics and how Einstein was able
...more
Ellis
Apr 14, 2009 Ellis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This installment of the "Great Courses" series gives a nice and simple overview of Einstein's Relativity theories (both Special and General) and the coming, at the time, Quantum Revolution. Dr. Wolfson does an excellent job of introducing important theories conceptually in a way that makes them accessible (I think) to non-technically-trained listeners. This is a great introduction for curious people without a background in Physics, or a fun review for people who just can't get enough of this stu ...more
Matt Valdez
Jun 07, 2015 Matt Valdez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(audiobook review)
"Captivating Lectures on Relativity/Quantum Physics"

I started two audiobooks at the same time: this one and a fiction book. I was far more engrossed in this one! It is a very interesting and captivating series of roughly 30-minutes lectures that range from Einstein's theory of relativity, speed of light, the basic constructs of matter, quantum mechanics, dark matter, etc.

There isn't any high-level math in this audiobook and the professor only goes into a few relativity simple f
...more
Nilesh
Apr 19, 2015 Nilesh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who has read many popular science books on the subject, the lecture series - otherwise excellent - will be a disappointment. For those who are near the beginning of the journey, this book is a great guide. I am mostly in the former category and hence the rating.

The book mostly covers theoretical physics advances in the first half of the twentieth century. It explains relativity beautifully. Some of the analogies will help shine lights on certain obscure topics even for the well-verse
...more
Guy
Aug 08, 2013 Guy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Overall, the lectures feel rushed with Wolfson gushing information unnaturally quickly as if he were on some sort of timed game show. It's not the speed of information that is a problem, but the frantic tone he takes making it feel like we're bothering him with questions he is good enough to answer, but he really must get going out the door.

The first half of this series is the sort of thing you get from watching any Discovery Channel show about the galaxy or the universe, which I suspect you are
...more
Vicky
May 02, 2015 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very general introduction to the basics concepts of classical physics and quantum physics, explained in a clever way that anybody can understand. It can be a bit too simplistic at times, but you have to consider this lectures are addressed to the general public.
Thomas Jr.
This is my first Great Courses series to go through. Well worth the Audible credit. Audible has saved me tens of thousands of dollars in tuition by satisfying my need to learn without me needing to go to more college.
Michael
Apr 03, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a superb introduction to modern physics for the non-scientist (i.e., no math equations to work through; instead it’s filled with lots of thought problems). I think Dr. Wolfson does as good a job as can be done in explaining the concepts so you can appreciate and have some understanding of special relativity, general relativity, and quantum physics. I especially appreciated the lectures on special relativity, and I now have a much better understanding of this complex topic than I ever did ...more
Filip Reierson
Jul 04, 2015 Filip Reierson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this course. Would like to have the material to go with it, but I guess they need some incentive to buy the real courses from their website as opposed to the audio version.
John Robertson
Sep 17, 2015 John Robertson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Does what it says on the tin, Wolfson has a great way of getting over the concepts and ideas, he's amusing, energetic and above all a very good teacher, highly recommended.
Natasha
For the first third, I understood everything perfectly.
For the second third, I wanted to raise my hand every few minutes to ask, "but what about...?"
For the last third, I was lost; completely and utterly lost.

But overall, it was a fun and interesting experience.
Becky
Nov 30, 2015 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Wow. If you've ever wanted to know about physics but were afraid of science then listen to this course! He explains stuff so eloquently that a non-scientist like myself can understand.
Jason Holliday
May 08, 2015 Jason Holliday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good lecture but bugs me that he describes concepts and doesn't list the scientific name of the concept. quantum entanglement is one example of many. he is doing the listener quite a disservice by not simply listing the concept names so they could read more information on it or quickly recognize it by name when it's mentioned in other places.
Darko Doko
May 11, 2015 Darko Doko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Briilliant!! Lecture 15 black holes oohh yeaahh haha
David Perry
Jan 09, 2016 David Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating stuff
Bogdan
Sep 26, 2009 Bogdan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice physics lecture that explains the broad ideas of special and general relativity as well as quantum physics in a way in which one can understand what they're about, albeit not their specifics.

What I liked about it in particular was that it also discussed the difficulties/inconsistencies in previous theories that drove the physics community to make these discoveries.

The audio version of this course (a video one exists as well) is hard to follow in certain places because of the missing visua
...more
Joshout
Jun 24, 2014 Joshout rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Verry clear!
Tamminh
Nov 28, 2015 Tamminh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wolfson is a wonderful teacher!
David Grossman
Sep 25, 2012 David Grossman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished the section on Relativity. Very impressive. The General Relativity section wasnt as rigorously demonstrated as for Special Relativity, probably because the math is much more intimidating, and our experience with extreme conditions (eg, black holes) is limited. Most of our experience is with earth's 'weak gravity (something not very reassuring when I'm on top of a skyscraper)', where escape velocity is much slower than light speed.
John Doyle
Jan 08, 2014 John Doyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, accessible, and well-paced review of classical physics and quantum mechanics. For me, Richard Wolfson's explanations of the philosophical implications of wave/particle duality and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle were highlights of this lecture series. In contrast, the fifteen minutes devoted to string theory at the very end of the lecture seemed patronizingly long. A universe with eleven dimensions seems intuitive...
Elynn
Jun 17, 2013 Elynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, science
I listened to these lectures and I found the professor often a little too repetitive for me, but the topic of the lectures is absolutely fascinating. It was a reminder of how vast the world/univers is and how much we still have to learn. If I had been taught some of these things when I was in high school, I seriously might have considered a career in physics. After learning these things, your brain will never be the same.
Kelly
Dec 11, 2015 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series of lectures was clear, interesting, and my favorite science read ever. The presentation was historical, so by the time an important theory was explained, I understood what experiments and questions gave rise to it. Fairly detailed explanations, but little math. Wolfson is a fantastic lecturer, and I can't recommend this series highly enough. I wish I could give 8 stars.
Gendou
Do not be confused by my rating.
This is a very good set of lectures.
I just didn't learn anything new myself, having already read many physics books.
Some of these lectures were fun to listen to, but most were boring to me.
Not because the contents were boring, but because I learned it all in High School.
So, I recommend this book for people with a burgeoning interest in physics.
Tanya
Okay, I'm a wimp. I was so proud of my non-scientist self for tackling these lectures, feeling all smug that I was stretching my mind. Well, I found my mind didn't feel so much stretched as bored beyond desire for existence. I listened to 7 lectures before I gave up. I guess there's a reason why I remain a non-scientist...
Brad Barker
Nov 19, 2013 Brad Barker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
I liked this lecture. The professor does a good job covering Special Relativity, and making it accessible. He touches on General Relativity a bit, and String theory as well, but only just. Certainly worth a listen.
Jill
Oct 02, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
I truly enjoyed this series of lectures on audio cd. It felt wonderful to relearn some things I had forgotten - and Einstein was amazing. Very understandable presentation; Wolfson loves what he studies.
Mike Hershkovitz
Did the audiobook...he speaks a bit too fast. I enjoyed it though. I've taken a couple basic level physics courses and my professor made difficult principles simpler than he did.
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