The Einstein Revolution

Peter Galison , Ion Mihailescu, HarvardX

Traces Albert Einstein’s engagement with relativity, quantum mechanics, Nazism, nuclear weapons, philosophy, the arts, and technology.

Albert Einstein has become the icon of modern science. Following his scientific, cultural, philosophical, and political trajectory, this course aims to track the changing role of physics in the 20th and 21st centuries. This history course addresses Einstein's engagement with relativity, quantum mechanics, Nazism, nuclear weapons, philosophy, the arts, and technology, and raises basic questions about what it means to understand physics in its broader history.
 
Participants in the course will follow seventeen lessons, each of which will present a mix of science (no prerequisites!) and the broader, relevant cultural surround.  Some weeks will examine the physics concepts, while others will see excerpts of films or discuss modernist poetry that took off from relativity. Or we might be looking at the philosophical roots and philosophical consequences of Einstein’s works.  At other times we will be fully engaged with historical and political questions: the building, dropping, and proliferation of nuclear weapons, for example. 
 
Typically, in a lesson (about an hour of streamed material), there will be opportunities for individual mini-essay writing, some multiple choice questions to bolster your understanding of the science, and a group activity which might one week be a debate and another a collective commentary on elements of an artwork from 1920s Weimar Germany.   

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HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement : http://harvardx.harvard.edu/research-statement to learn more.

Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact harvardx@harvard.edu and/or report your experience through the edX contact form : https://www.edx.org/contact-us.

 

What will you learn

  • Through the life and work of Albert Einstein, the changing role of physics in the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Einstein's engagement with relativity, quantum mechanics, Nazism, nuclear weapons, philosophy, the arts, and technology
  • How to engage with questions about what it means to understand physics in its broader history.

Dates:
  • 16 February 2016, 14 weeks
Course properties:
  • Free:
  • Paid:
  • Certificate:
  • MOOC:
  • Video:
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  • Language: English Gb

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