Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

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9/10 stars
based on  34 reviews
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Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

Course Details

Cost

FREE

Upcoming Schedule

  • TBA

Course Provider

Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4680 reviews

Course Description

This course offers you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the life and work of the young Albert Einstein and especially his mind-bending special theory of relativity.
Reviews 9/10 stars
34 Reviews for Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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No one of consequence profile image
No one of consequence profile image
4/10 starsDropped
  • 30 reviews
  • 18 completed
5 years, 6 months ago
Unfortunately this class made me feel as though time itself had slowed down. I appreciate taking time to cover complex topics, but it took far too long to even get going. I might try this again after drinking a few cups of coffee to help me stay awake.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 27 reviews
  • 27 completed
1 year, 7 months ago
One among the best Science courses available. On pursing this course not only did my appreciation of Relativity increase but the usual myth that it’s difficult to understand was shattered. Prof. Larry Lagerstrom has my deep respect and love for teaching such an elaborate course with clarity and beauty. One of the oldest courses I completed, the notes I made back then still is of immense value to me. This course remains as the only source of my Relativity knowledge. Shall always cherish a sincere reverence for Prof. Larry Lagerstrom.
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10/10 starsCompleted
  • 26 reviews
  • 24 completed
1 year, 11 months ago
The professor has done a great job at presenting the understanding behind the special theory of relativity . The course presents a good amount of famous experiments and paradoxes which are worth pondering and researching in google . Due to the material present , or the light in which it has been presented , the course has been an inspiration to me .
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Kristina Šekrst profile image
Kristina Šekrst profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 102 reviews
  • 102 completed
2 years, 5 months ago
I've been waiting for this one for so long! It hasn't been offered for quite a while, and now it's back on the self-paced platform. Its workload is sometimes overwhelming, but it's worthwhile. The instructor is amazing, and I loved the weekly quotations and context. You'll learn about technological context, cultural one, and even about Einstein as a person, but you'll also dive into mathematics (don't worry, it's not complicated). Extremely difficult topics are schematized and analyzed, and this is the best resource to dive into the wonderful world of relativity. Quizzes aren't challenging, and you can do practice quizzes before the real ones, so it's a piece of cake. However, the lectures themselves are a true treasure. Yay for this course being back!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Great explanation of the special theory of relativity. The explanation of this complex subject is very clear and done step by step. The used materials are very basic (a whitboard and some fake rockets made of paper) and very efficient to support the learning proces.
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Robert Gonzalez profile image
Robert Gonzalez profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 10 reviews
  • 9 completed
5 years, 5 months ago
Easily my favorite and the course that I am the most proud to have accomplished. My math skills were rusty, so it really forced me to figure other ways to solve some of the problems. I recommend that you take a refresher course in basic algebra before taking the course. Dr. Lagerstrom is the best! His lectures are well thought through, although there were times I thought my head would explode. This course is not for the faint at heart, if you haven't been exposed to Einstein's work before, prepare to really think. Do it!
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First Last profile image
First Last profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 6 months ago
\- I had no prior knowledge of the subject \- some basic mathematics know-how is useful (algebra) \- outstanding professor and experience!!! \- while in the beginning, the pace seems slow, this clearly changes once it gets more tricky - with hindsight you understand that the lecturer´s speed is exactly right!
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daisykho profile image
daisykho profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 11 reviews
  • 7 completed
5 years, 7 months ago
I vote this the best Coursera course of 2013. Professor Lagerstorm is an outstanding teacher. It would seem an impossible feat but he managed to explained special relativity in a way as to make it simple enough for people without special math/physics background to understand time dilation and length contraction. I vote also Professor Lagerstorm as the best Coursera Lecturer of the year.
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Justine Ivan profile image
Justine Ivan profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 15 reviews
  • 9 completed
5 years, 7 months ago
I've worked long hours trying to understand the concepts and solving the problem sets for this course. Very fulfilling. (Though I missed the deadline twice). Randles, teaches slowly which I like and is probably the BEST instructor for me. The clarity can't be beaten! I love the whiteboard and pen (or chalk & board [what do you call these?]) style over the slides/powerpoint style. We even have a week 0 to motivate the learners and give tips in math and studying overall. What I got from 'week 0' is already a good take-out from the course. Great quality instruction and experience. I would definitely take another course from Sir Lagerstrom. Whatever the subject is.
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Jeff Winchell profile image
Jeff Winchell profile image
1/10 starsDropped
  • 91 reviews
  • 66 completed
4 years, 2 months ago
The instructor (NOT a professor) spoke so slow and wrote so many emails out of his own insecurity, that I dropped this class sensing that this instructor was in over his head.
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Student

8/10 starsDropped
5 years, 10 months ago
This course started just as I had 4 other courses underway. Would have loved to continue and will definitely try to take again. I found the background on Einstein and the state of physics at the time to be invaluable for understanding where the theory comes from. It puts E=MC^2 into context and instead of being a lone unapproachable equation we see it a intuitive leap - a great one at that.
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Ravi R profile image
Ravi R profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Great course. Larry is easily the most dedicated instructor I have ever encountered in Coursera. Probably one of the best even when I compare others I have had during my career. I cannot believe that I can now understand the basics of Einstein's Special Theory.
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David Willson profile image
David Willson profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Excellent course! The 'quantitative approach' is quite challenging if you choose to go down that route, and if Physics is your thing then you really should. Some problem sets were quite time consuming. Best thing about this course though is it gives an alternate route for anyone who'd rather not do the calculations. Enjoyed the course immensely.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
Fantastic - if it's offered, take it. You'll be glad you did. Dr. Lagerstrom is a wonderful teacher who explains difficult concepts with clarity and without ego. Plus, the material is mind-bending. I had no prior experience with the subject, beyond a general interest in the universe itself.
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Student

9/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
I didn't have any expirience in special theory of relativity, but this profesor explained it perfectly. I definetly recommend this course to anyone !
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Phillip Lazzar profile image
Phillip Lazzar profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 2 reviews
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
I have studied Special Relativity a lot and teach a brief introduction to the subject however, I'm no expert on the subject...still lots to learn. Prof. Langerstrom is an outstanding teacher. He presented what can be confusing ideas in a very clear and concise way and he did it with charm and humility. Of all the resources out there for learning SR, this class is far and away the absolute best resource. It gives both a qualitative and quantitative understanding of the subject. My math is rusty so it was helpful that he went through ever step of the math explaining each step clearly. The Coursera format is also excellent and allows you (if you're viewing online) to speed up and slow down the presentation. So, for me, I was able to speed through the parts that I knew well and focus on those I wanted a better understanding of. I can not say enough nice things about Coursera and Prof. Langerstrom. Both put on a first class presentation. ... I have studied Special Relativity a lot and teach a brief introduction to the subject however, I'm no expert on the subject...still lots to learn. Prof. Langerstrom is an outstanding teacher. He presented what can be confusing ideas in a very clear and concise way and he did it with charm and humility. Of all the resources out there for learning SR, this class is far and away the absolute best resource. It gives both a qualitative and quantitative understanding of the subject. My math is rusty so it was helpful that he went through ever step of the math explaining each step clearly. The Coursera format is also excellent and allows you (if you're viewing online) to speed up and slow down the presentation. So, for me, I was able to speed through the parts that I knew well and focus on those I wanted a better understanding of. I can not say enough nice things about Coursera and Prof. Langerstrom. Both put on a first class presentation. HIghly recommend it to anyone of any age and background.
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Nader Soliman profile image
Nader Soliman profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
One of the best, thanks Prof. Larry Lagerstrom. 1\. You don't need much math of physics knowledge to complete it 2\. It changes your view of physics as a rigid science to a more of science based on pure imagination and finding a mathematical model that supports that imagination without violating other established physics theories
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katrien profile image
katrien profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 4 reviews
  • 3 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
This was a very interesting course. It was easy to follow thanks to the quality of teaching. Professor Lagerstrom taught in a very educational way, by talking and writing on a white board. Often, it was too slow for me, but then I watched the video lectures at a higher speed. I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
A good introduction to the special theory of relativity. It helps if you have a little algebra behind you but even if you don't then you'll still learn a lot.
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Student

8/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
The course does a very good job of deriving and developing intuitions for the basics of relativity. The instructor explains things in a very clear way and gives many examples. Only the most basic familiarity with algebra is required as a prerequisite. The downside is that it goes very slowly/deliberately, and somewhat advanced students may be frustrated with the pace.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
This is an exceptional class. The professor takes a lot of time to explain this theory, and many of it's consequences. Consequently, if you are already well versed in this theory, the presentation might seem drawn out. However for those who are not well versed, the time taken helps immensely in the ability to grasp and understand the "weirdness". And even those well versed will learn something through the excellent presentation of concepts, vital to real understanding of this subject. A class well worth taking!!!
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Jayne Rivas profile image
Jayne Rivas profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
Professor Lagerstrom is one of the best professors I have had the pleasure to learn from. With nothing but a whiteboard, a few colored markers and a few yardsticks, he assures that you understand completely his explication of the Special theory of relativity, somethng that I have tried to understand on my own several ties before. Some may feel that his teaching methods lack technical sophistication; I on the other hand, think that his no-frills approach is the essence of clarity. Way to go, Professor Larry, keep on teaching MOOCS. The world is so much better for your efforts!!!!
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Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
5 years, 10 months ago
I have really enjoyed taking this course and learning about a subject I knew very little about. I couldn't make heads or tails of Einstein's actual paper, but Professor Lagerstrom's lectures were very easy to understand and follow, they were also entertaining and informative. He emphasises the "struggle to understand" and sometimes it was a struggle, but one I feel enriched from having undertaken. I am now going to continue my learning on this topic with Paul Davies' book "About time".
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 10 months ago
I had read books about Einstein's theories written for the general public but always had trouble understanding them. This course was everything I hoped for. Prof Langerstrom gives you a very complete and solid basis, explaining very thoroughly all the concepts of Special Relativity. Fantastic course!!!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 11 months ago
Very helpful presentations by the professor on a difficult subject. He was very analytical. The problem sets sometimes were hard enough for those who don't have the necessary background, but overall it was a great experience!
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Rob Thomas profile image
Rob Thomas profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 11 months ago
Very well put together and presented course. The quizzes at the end of each session helped enormously in ensuring the basic ideas in the session had been understood. The problem sets were also good. I came into the course with some math background (grad level) and having read some articles on relativity. However, the course has taken my understanding of Einstein's work to a new level to the extent I would consider trying to take things further with a course on the General theory, if I could find a suitable one.
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Guy Davis profile image
Guy Davis profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
5 years, 10 months ago
This is the first MOOC I have taken. I particularly appreciated the great care that was taken in preparing the course materials to make the subject clear and accessible, structuring the lectures and quizzes in easily digestible bites, providing guidance to students on study habits at the outset and adopting an approach that facilitated consolidation of knowledge as we progressed. The multi-speed play feature on the lectures was terrific, allowing more rapid progress when the material was familiar, or a more measured pace when not. I also enjoyed the course reading, and the rich historical context for the material in the ebook and lectures. Gaining a basic understanding of relativity has been on my "bucket list" for a while and this course did the trick. The experience has lived up to my best hopes. I am tremendously excited by the development of MOOCs and grateful to Prof Lagerstrom, Stanford, and all the other pioneering institution... This is the first MOOC I have taken. I particularly appreciated the great care that was taken in preparing the course materials to make the subject clear and accessible, structuring the lectures and quizzes in easily digestible bites, providing guidance to students on study habits at the outset and adopting an approach that facilitated consolidation of knowledge as we progressed. The multi-speed play feature on the lectures was terrific, allowing more rapid progress when the material was familiar, or a more measured pace when not. I also enjoyed the course reading, and the rich historical context for the material in the ebook and lectures. Gaining a basic understanding of relativity has been on my "bucket list" for a while and this course did the trick. The experience has lived up to my best hopes. I am tremendously excited by the development of MOOCs and grateful to Prof Lagerstrom, Stanford, and all the other pioneering institutions and academics who are making first class educational content available to the online world. I am now very eager to move on to other subjects as time allows.
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Timon profile image
Timon profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 10 reviews
  • 10 completed
5 years, 11 months ago
A brilliant course with a brilliant instructor about one the most brilliant people who ever lived. I had already had exposure to the Special Theory of Relativity before, so I think I can rightfully say that this was a very good introduction. It may at times be a little difficult for people who are not used to a bit of abstract thinking but sticking to it is definitely worth it. The companion book to the course "The Young Einstein" is a very readable biography of Einstein's early years - well worth reading.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 11 months ago
This was hands down the best course I ever took, online or in a physical classroom. I used to be a physics undergrad many years ago, and although my professional choices took me towards computer science I never stopped loving physics. I took this class out of sheer love for the subject matter, although already familiar with some of the basic concepts, but I got so much more than I expected from it. Just the lecture on "how to succeed in this course" should be made a prerequisite for ANY class - and it wasn't even about Einstein, relativity, of even physics. Everything was pitch-perfect: presentation, pace, thoroughness, logistics, materials, assessment quizzes, problem sets, schedule.. I just don't have enough good words for how well done it all was. And "Young Einstein: From the Doxerl Affair to the Miracle Year" was one of the most enjoyable reads of the year. Professor Lagerstrom is a virtuoso of teaching, and in this class he... This was hands down the best course I ever took, online or in a physical classroom. I used to be a physics undergrad many years ago, and although my professional choices took me towards computer science I never stopped loving physics. I took this class out of sheer love for the subject matter, although already familiar with some of the basic concepts, but I got so much more than I expected from it. Just the lecture on "how to succeed in this course" should be made a prerequisite for ANY class - and it wasn't even about Einstein, relativity, of even physics. Everything was pitch-perfect: presentation, pace, thoroughness, logistics, materials, assessment quizzes, problem sets, schedule.. I just don't have enough good words for how well done it all was. And "Young Einstein: From the Doxerl Affair to the Miracle Year" was one of the most enjoyable reads of the year. Professor Lagerstrom is a virtuoso of teaching, and in this class he will open your mind. Strongly recommended.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
5 years, 11 months ago
Very enjoyable and totally approachable for anyone with a modest algebra background and a little motivation. Professor Lagerstrom is top-notch and provides enthusiasm and lucid explanations.
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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.