• Length:
    4 Weeks
  • Effort:
    4–8 hours per week
  • Institution
  • Subject:
  • Level:
    Intermediate
  • Language:
    English
  • Video Transcript:
    English

Prerequisites

Generally, requires math and physics at the high school level; college-level introductory classes in calculus and physics will meet all requirements. Familiarity with the following mathematical tools: distance, Pythagorean theorem, trigonometry, vectors, and derivatives. Familiarity with the following topics in physics: speed, velocity, acceleration, Newton's laws of motion, kinetic and potential energy, and Newton's description of gravity.

About this course

Skip About this course

The study of the night sky instilled wonder in our ancestors. Modern astronomy extends the human view to previously unexplored regions of space and time. In this course, you will gain an understanding of these discoveries through a focus on relativity—Einstein's fascinating and non-intuitive description of the physical world. By studying relativity and astronomy together, you will develop physical insight and quantitative skills, and you’ll regain a profound sense of wonder for the universe we call home.

FAQ

  • What topics will the course cover?
    • Section One—Introduction
    • Section Two—3, 2, 1 … Launching the journey into spacetime
    • Section Three—Special relativity: from light to dark
    • Section Four—General relativity: from flat to curved
  • Is there a required textbook?

    • No textbook is required. Notes will be posted weekly. A list of supplemental resources, including textbooks, will be provided.​​
  • What are the learning outcomes of this course?

    • Explain the meaning and significance of the postulates of special and general relativity.

    • Discuss significant experimental tests of both special and general relativity.

    • Analyze paradoxes in special relativity.

    • Apply appropriate tools for problem solving in special relativity.

    • Describe astrophysical situations where the consequences of relativity qualitatively impact predictions and/or observations.

    • Describe daily situations where relativity makes a difference.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Explain the meaning and significance of the postulates of special and general relativity.
  • Discuss significant experimental tests of both special and general relativity.
  • Analyze paradoxes in special relativity.
  • Apply appropriate tools for problem solving in special relativity.
  • Describe astrophysical situations where the consequences of relativity qualitatively impact predictions and/or observations.
  • Describe daily situations where relativity makes a difference.

Meet your instructors

David F. Chernoff
Professor of Astronomy
Cornell University