Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists” as Want to Read:
Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  422 Ratings  ·  65 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, Second Edition
Published 2000 by The Great Courses
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jan 01, 2015 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
Shelves: physics
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
wirrow wirrow
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(non of my reviews will be eloquent)

i think wolfson pulled off a masterwork of condensing the history of physics theory into a few weeks of reading/listening for people who have little or no physics history.

there's seriously nothing boring here, every step of the way is fascinating.

the maths is there and you can follow along but it really doesn't matter that much if you don't. i highly recommend it to anyone interested in classical physics and quantum theory but doesn't know where to start.

Feb 25, 2009 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.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well explained. It summarized all the history of modern physics. It is great for non-scientist as well as for scientists who want to remember how things happened and why. It helps to understand what was the chronological order of events which culminated in our current knowledge about the universe and nature.
Motaz Alfarraj
Mar 11, 2014 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
Sep 29, 2015 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
Matt Musselman
A terrific intro to 20th and 21st century physics (Einstein and later).

Despite having taken two years of honours high school physics and reading a number of books on the topic, there were a number of concepts about relativity and quantum mechanics I still grasped only loosely.

Professor Wolfson has a way of explaining difficult concepts simply and very visually that really "clicks" with my mind: time dilation, relativistic frames of reference, etc. I wish I'd had this background from the beginnin
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
Jan 16, 2009 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
Rafid Al-Humaimidi
Good introduction to Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, with a quick introduction to Particle Physics towards the end. I listened to the Audio book, which is narrated by Professor Wolfson himself. His narration is awesome, with amazing, attention-grabbing, fluency. If you are into Physics, you will love this book. It should be pointed out, though, that this book is only conceptual, with almost no mathematical equation. So if you are expecting to be able to solve the equations, then this book is n ...more
Karsten Speckmann
This is fascinating! A 12 hour deep dive into Physics, historic, current and future.
If you are curious in general, and in how the bigger (and tinier) universe work, this is a course for you.
I got myself the updated version through The Great Courses on Audible.
I am deeply impressed by Professor Wolfson's ability to explain these complex matters to laypersons like me.
Maurício Linhares
Great review of modern physics, but make sure you have the PDF around because there's a lot of stuff to look at and it's unlikely you'll be able to understand or imagine the concepts by listening alone, this one wasn't really made with listening in mind.

Professor Wotlfson goes through great lengths explaining Newtonian physics, then special relativity, how they relate to one another and why we can still explain most of what we interact with with the old theories. Then he goes about general relat
Menglong Youk
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: course-video
Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-scientists is taught by professor Richard Wolfson. I must admit that I learnt from this course more than any other books I've read on quantum mechanics. Professor Wolfson's enthusiasm grabs my interest, making me pay extra attention to what he was saying. The concepts are relatively easy to digest as the illustrations provide a bit more information to the students. However, I wish there were more mathematical equations invo ...more
An Nguyen
I really enjoyed listening to this. The structure of the course eases you into the fundamental concepts of Newtonian physics and then makes its way through Einsteins Special and General Relativity before finishing with Quantum Mechanics and just a smidge of String Theory. The math behind the concepts are seldom brought up, usually only to show the beauty of a simple equation, which makes the book more accessable to people who aren't directly working in physics.

Some of the more dense ideas covere
In the end this was informative, but I felt like the lecturer 'told' his audience how things are, but didn't 'explain' well how and why they are the way they are. He's super smart and spoke incredibly fast, and I think I needed him to slow down and show me why a particle is how it is before moving on to the next concept. It's also a little dated now (2000), so it wasn't able to include the important results of the large hadron collider and Higgs boson.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic and so interesting. I cannot say that it makes everything clear, but I gained a lot of puzzle pieces from this well done class. I found it totally engaging. The people who will not like it include those that want everything to be "right now" practical and who are not curious about the nature of the world in which we live. But if you are curious and learning is fun by itself, this will fascinate you too. Thanks Professor Wolfson!
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. There are references to diagrams which the audiobook doesn't have. It is slightly dated as it predates the discovery of the Higgs boson, but excellent nonetheless.
John Young
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really great lecture series that helps you understand these important concepts in physics. I loved it and highly recommend it.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Really interesting! I definitely have a way better understanding and am interested in learning more :)
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this as a refresher. It's pretty fast-paced, but I still kept up with the audio version. The material is a little dated, but not badly. Great speaker/presenter.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OMG! I was blown away by how awesome this book was. It kept me riveted and I just could not put it down. It's the kind you need to reread every so often to keep your memory sharp.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this lecture series, but I am definitely going to have to listen to it again to fully grasp the material. The first part of series actually gives focus to "classical" physics, which I thought was a very clever way of introducing the material. You never really learn about the history behind physics or why scientists thought the things they did before new theories were developed. I found that part really interesting and it gave the sections about modern physics much more depth in my ...more
Matt Valdez
Jun 07, 2015 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
Apr 19, 2015 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
Dave Symmonds
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The segments pertaining to relativity and special relativity were really well done. If you can stay with him, and push through
Not being able to see the
Illustrations he is using, you will be left not only with a clear understanding of relativity, but also why it must be true, and exactly what lead Einstein to develop the theory. I have only basic college level physics experience, and Was able to keep pace fairly well. Although I have done a fair
Amount of research into Einsteins theories.

The seg
Jan 15, 2012 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
Anoop Kutty
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
I had got the audio book on Audible and its a really wonderful primer on Relativity and Quantum mechanics. The audio book is in the form of a series of 24 lectures, each about half an hour worth.
It is a bit dated actually as this audio book was made towards the end of the 20th century. So this book misses out on the discovery of Higgs Boson and the experiments of the Large Hadron Collider.
Still its nice to brush up on the amazingly mind boggling aspects of Relativity, black holes and the world
Nilesh Bahir
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simplistic view into the world of ever enchanting physics of Gravity, Relativity, Sub-Atomic Particles and Quantum Theory. The Audio lectures are easy to follow and are fast paces.
If you have curiosity to understand ever evolving aspect of modern physics and tenacity, this book is worth your time to either refresh your old understanding or stimulate your meditation over the physics talks.

Personally, I came up with so many new questions and bafflements that I need to find answers to and that is w
Sep 16, 2009 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
Jun 17, 2013 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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Great Ideas of Psychology (Great Courses, #660)
  • Classical Mythology
  • The Historical Jesus (Great Courses, #643)
  • The Foundations of Western Civilization (Great Courses, #370)
  • Great World Religions: Buddhism (Great Courses, #6105)
  • The History of Ancient Rome (Great Courses, #340)
  • The Vikings (Great Courses, #3910)
  • London: A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World
  • Particle Physics For Non Physicists: A Tour Of The Microcosmos
  • Big History: The Big Bang, Life On Earth, And The Rise Of Humanity (Great Courses, #8050)
  • The Old Testament (Great Courses, #653)
  • The High Middle Ages
  • The History Of Ancient Egypt (Great Courses, #350)
  • The Story of Human Language
  • How to Listen to and Understand Great Music (Great Courses, #700)
  • Nutrition Made Clear (Great Courses, #1950)
  • The History of the United States (Great Courses, #8500)
  • Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time

Nonfiction Deals

  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
    $8.24 $1.99
  • A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf
    $27.00 $2.99
  • Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Room of One's Own
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Life in a Medieval City
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych E.R.
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts--Becoming the Person You Want to Be
    $14.99 $2.99
  • The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan
    $8.99 $1.99
  • My Life on the Road
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Too Close to Me: The Middle-Aged Consequences of Revealing A Child Called "It"
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Drinking: A Love Story
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light Between Us: Stories from Heaven, Lessons for the Living
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
    $13.99 $2.99
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Izzy & Lenore: Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Immortal Irishman: Thomas Meager and the Invention of Irish America
    $15.99 $2.99
  • Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Heart of Christianity
    $9.74 $1.99
  • The Federalist Papers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
    $7.24 $1.99