Does the universe have an edge? Is time travel possible? What is a black hole, and should we be worried about experiments at the LHC creating them? The modern theory of spacetime introduced by Einstein provides a precise framework in which to ask these questions. This course makes their analysis accessible to everyone.
Students will have the opportunity to engage with Einstein's theories of relativity, to use them to analyse philosophical problems, and to examine their philosophical and practical implications. The topics of the course will include: 1) Relativity: Slowing clocks, shrinking rods, and the relativity of simultaneity; 2) Spacetime: Thinking in 4-dimensions, faster-than-light travel, and other philosophical issues; 3) Non-Euclidean thinking: Beyond the geometry of Euclid, measuring curvature, gravity as curvedspacetime; 4) Cosmology: Our place in the universe, big bang cosmology, time travel; 5) Limits of space and time: Geometry, black holes, singularities.
Students will learn to apply these conceptual tools to the analysis of space, time and gravity, as well as to formulate and argue for their own perspectives on the philosophical implications of relativity theory. One is often faced with unsubstantiated declarations about the implications of Einstein's theories, by both scientists and non-scientists. This course will equip non-scientists with the conceptual tools needed to critically analyse these claims for themselves.
Einstein for Everyone requires absolutely no background in physics or maths. Students are only required to learn two equations, which really cannot be omitted: E=mc2, and Einstein's equation!