Physics: from Galileo to Einstein
4.4 (5 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
449 students enrolled

Physics: from Galileo to Einstein

A (not to quick) overview on the foundations of modern physics, from the Galilei and Newton to Einstein.
4.4 (5 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
449 students enrolled
Created by Marco Masi
Last updated 10/2019
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $13.99 Original price: $19.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
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This course includes
  • 9 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Some elements of the conceptual foundations of Classical Physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism), and non classical Physics (Relativity and Quantum Physics).
  • Most of the lectures require no math, with exception of a few parts which resort briefly to some basics of high school math, algebra and calculus. Otherwise no prerequisites or math needed (though students with a technical background may have an advantage.)
  • It is not a university level physics course. However, it raises the level beyond a standard popular science lecture. Which means that you will take your time to go through some material more than once.

This is an overview of the conceptual foundations of physics, from its inception in the 17th century with Galileo Galilei and Newton to the 20th century physics of Einstein (and somewhat beyond). It is for those who would like to get an overview at a bit higher level of popularized science but less than an academic one, and without having to piece together with long searches all the concepts from different sources. Special emphases is set on the philosophical implications of the 20th century findings such as on determinism and final causes in physics.

Who this course is for:
  • People passionate about science who are looking for a serious and rigorous introduction to the basics of modern physics beyond the oversimplified representations of media hypes but without having to attend college.
Course content
Expand all 22 lectures 08:45:17
+ Classical Mechanics
5 lectures 02:03:44

After a short review of Copernicus' and Kepler's achievement we describe how Galileo and Newton effectively initiated what we nowadays understand as empiric science.

Galileo's and Newton's kickoff

A short overview on basics of celestial mechanics and how it determined a mechanistic view of the world

Celestial mechanics and the advent of determinism

The original definition of entropy is not the measure of disorder but came from Sadi Carnot that obtained it from the study of thermodynamic cycles. Other notions of thermodynamics will be discussed.

Entropy: Carnot's definition and the foundations of thermodynamics

Ludwig Boltzmann was the founding father of statistical thermodynamics. How statistics is used in physics and how it changed our understanding of the world will be discussed. Some philosophical ruminations on the possible thermal death of the universe follow.

Entropy: Boltmann's definition

Classical indeterminism made it impossible to realize Laplace's dream of a science capable to predicting everything.

Deterministic chaos
+ Electromagnetism and Realtivity
3 lectures 01:13:29

After Galileian and Newtonian mechanics, als electromagnetism, that is the science that deals with static and oscillating electric and magnetic phenomena, such as light, paved the way to a new revolution.

Electromagnetism and Maxwell's achievement

Einstein conceived his first part of the theory of relativity in 1905. It deals with relativistic phenomena that are not subjected to gravitational fields.

Special Relativity

General relativity extends special relativity to gravitational fields. It gave us also a completely new understanding of cosmology, the birth of the universe and black holes.

General Realtivity
+ Quantum Mechanics
5 lectures 02:07:15

From Planck's blackbody radiation to Bohr's atom, the photoelectric effect and Compton scattering.

Preview 22:28

The double slit experiment, De Broglie wavelength of particles and the famous Heisenberg principle of uncertainty.

Wave-particle duality and Heisenberg's uncertainty relation.

The wavefunction describes the probability of every event in the quantum world. Is it a real or abstract entity? This and other issues were at the center of the debate between Bohr and Einstein.

The wavefunction and the Bohr-Einstein debate

Schrödinger found out for an equation that describes the entire atomic world. Stern and Gerlach measured the spin of particles and found out some very weird facts.

The Schrödinger equation and the weird behavior of particles' spin.

The famous Schrödinger's cat paradox, its meaning and resolution. The time-energy uncertainty relation will lead us to the so called 'vacuum zero-point energy' which sees empty space not so empty....

Schrödinger's cat and the vacuum's zero-point energy
+ Randomness: a philosophical digression
2 lectures 01:04:07

Everyone knows intuitively what we mean by 'randomness' but what is it in science? Is it a scientific proof for a lack of intentionality?

Randomness: some definitions and examples

Complexity theory of Chaitin helps us a step further in understanding what randomness is, but does not finally give us a practical method and universal definition. Quantum randomness is compared to deterministic randomness.

Randomness: Complexity and quantum randomness
+ Particle physics and beyond
5 lectures 02:02:25

The standard model of particle physics is the most precise and successful theory of physics. However, it is clear that it can't be the whole story.

The Standard Model of Particle Physics

It is now clear that we know only of 5% of the content of the universe. There is another 95% that we don't know what it is made of.

Dark Matter and Dark Energy

String theory is one of the many theories trying to unify the four fundamental forces of Nature. So far unsuccessfully.

Quantum Gravity - String Theory

Inflationary cosmology is one of the leading theories about the first instant of the creation of the Universe.

Inflationary Cosmology

The Universe seems to be fine tuned for the emergence of Life. Truth or reality.

The Fine Tuning of the Universe
+ Conclusion
1 lecture 06:02
Some final remarks