MIT short course: Relativity, Gravity and Cosmology
July 9, 2007 @ 12:00 am - July 12, 2007 @ 12:00 am EDT
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.
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.
Course Content and Schedule
There will be five 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
The General Theory of Relativity
Theory of Black Holes: The Schwarzschild and Kerr Metrics
Black Holes in the Milky Way and Other Galaxies
Hawking Radiation and Quantum Gravity
Gravitational Radiation: Theory and Measurement
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
Wormholes, Times Machines, and Baby Universes
The Multiverse and the Megaverse
The Cosmological Constant, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe
Our Universe: Past, Present, and Future