Relativity, Gravity, and Cosmology
This course is in development for 2013 or beyond. The below description should be taken as an example of content and is subject to change. If you are interested in this course, please
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Recent advances in gravitation theory and cosmology, combined with breakthroughs in observational astronomy, are transforming our understanding of space and time and our perspectives on the origin and future fate of the universe. This course is designed both for individuals who would like to learn the fundamentals of Einstein's theories of relativity and for those who are interested in the most recent advances in our understanding of the nature of black holes, other relativistic phenomena in our universe, and the formation and evolution of the universe itself.
The course will cover a large number of topics, ranging from the experimental and theoretical underpinnings of the special and general theories of relativity to the birth, history, and future evolution of the universe. All subject matter will be presented on a level accessible to anyone familiar with algebra and Freshman-level physics.
Do not be concerned about the request for professional credentials in the standard application form. This course is intended for interested laypersons with a Freshman level of understanding of algebra, not for professionals in relativity or cosmology. If you have any questions about whether this course is suitable for you, please contact the presenter, Prof. Paul C. Joss, via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (617-253-4845).
Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings and tools (50%)
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (50%)
Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (85%)
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (15%)
Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (100%)
- Describe the experimental foundations of relativity; the Fitzgerald contraction and time dilation; Lorentz transformations and world lines; the twin paradox; and the meaning of the formula E = mc2.
- Discuss Mach's Principle; the general theory of relativity; the nature of gravitational radiation; the theory of black holes; the Schwarzschild and Kerr metrics; black holes in the Milky Way and other galaxies; wormholes, time machines, and baby universes; Hawking radiation; quantum gravity; and alternative theories of gravity.
- Describe Hubble's Law and the Big Bang; the cosmic background radiation; Big Bang nucleosynthesis; the Grand Unified Theory; and the Theory of Everything.
- Explain the nature of the inflationary universe; the origin of cosmic structure; the cosmological constant, dark energy, and the accelerating universe; and the ultimate fate of our universe.
All lecture materials will be distributed to participants following the conclusion of the course. Participants are encouraged to read a basic text in relativity and another basic text in cosmology prior to attendance. For relativity, a good choice would be either:
Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, by Albert Einstein, republished by Random House,
Relativity Visualized, by Lewis Caroll Epstein, Insight Press, 2000.
For cosmology, either of the following books is recommended:
The Five Ages of the Universe, by Fred C. Adams and Greg Laughlin, Simon & Schuster, 2000,
Cosmology: A Very Short Introduction, by Peter Coles, Oxford University Press, 2001.
There will be four lectures each day. At the end of each day's lectures, there will be a roundtable discussion among the lecturer and participants.
Introduction and Overview
Experimental Foundations of Relativity
The Fitzgerald Contraction and Time Dilation
Lorentz Transformations and World Lines
The Twin Paradox; E = mc2
Mach's Principle and The Principle of Equivalence
The General Theory of Relativity
Theory of Black Holes: The Schwarzschild and Kerr Metrics
Black Holes in the Milky Way and Other Galaxies
Gravitational Radiation: Theory and Measurement
Wormholes and Times Machines
Hawking Radiation and Quantum Gravity
Alternative Theories of Gravity
Hubble's Law and the Big Bang
The Cosmic Background Radiation and Big Bang Nucleosynthesis
The Grand Unified Theory and the Theory of Everything
The Inflationary Universe
The Origin of Cosmic Structure
The Multiverse, the Megaverse, and Baby Universes
The Cosmological Constant, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe
Our Universe: Past, Present, and Future
President, The Mozolic Consulting Group
"Anyone with a professional or personal interest in relativity, gravity and cosmology would love this course. It was amazing as to how much Professor Joss covered in 5 days."
Science Teacher, Hanover High School
"I would highly recommend the course to someone with high interest in the subject matter. It was engaging and provided a good introduction to the topics."
About the Presenter
The course will be presented by Dr. Paul C. Joss, who is a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Joss received his education at Cornell University, where he earned a B.A. in physics and a Ph.D. in astronomy and space sciences. He has authored more than 130 scholarly publications in astronomy and astrophysics. He has been a member of the MIT faculty for the past 37 years, where he has served as Associate Head of the Astrophysics Division. He has held concurrent positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has also served on oversight committees for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Universities Space Research Association, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and he was elected to the Executive Committee of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society. He has devoted his career to research and teaching in astrophysics and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the prestigious Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society for his contributions to astrophysics.
This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please contact the Short Programs office for further details.
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