Saturday, March 15, 2014
Happy Belated Einstein's Birthday (Get Ready for Spring)
Yesterday was Albert Einstein's birthday and this coming Thursday will be the Spring Equinox, when the length of the day and the length of the night are roughly equal, and we move from winter to spring in the Earth's northern hemisphere. This is always a good time of year to think fresh thoughts, something Einstein was especially good at.
At Foothill College, where I have the privilege of teaching, this is the week we begin registering students and community members for our spring quarter, which starts in April. This spring, I get to teach my evening Physics 12 class, nicknamed "Everything You've Wanted to Know about Einstein and his Work (without Math) but Were Afraid to Ask..."
If you, or someone you know, might be interested and are close enough to Los Altos, California to come to an evening class, I invite you to check it out.
Although Einstein died in 1955, his work continues to capture the imagination of both scientists and the public. In the last few years, astronomers have found new confirmation of some of Einstein’s most bizarre ideas -- including time itself slowing down under the right circumstances and gravity acting like the distorting mirrors of an amusement park. Huge black holes have been found, some of them having “eaten” enough material to make billions of Suns.
In the Physics 12 course, we explain all these ideas and discoveries in everyday language -- using analogies, visuals, and humor instead of math. Physics 12 will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8:30 pm, April 8 to June 24, 2014. Pre-registration is advised, but, if there is room, you can come hear the first lecture (room 5015) and then register if you like the approach. The class is held on the main campus of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, just off Freeway 280. (For adults who don't need a grade, arrangements can be made, after you register, to take the course without the exams.)
For registration information for the Spring Quarter see:
Physics 12 emphasizes key ideas that form the basis of our modern concepts of space, time, matter, and energy:
* The theory of how atoms work
* Energy, heat, and the arrow of time
* The special theory of relativity: what happens when you travel close to the speed of light
* The general theory of relativity: gravity, space-time warps, and black holes
* Quantum mechanics: the bizarre rules that govern the world inside the atom
In addition to examining the physics and physicists involved with these areas, the course also takes a brief look at the effects that such physics ideas have had on the humanities -- including poetry, fiction, music, and the public view of scientists. The quarter concludes the course with a non-technical introduction to the work of Stephen Hawking, whose innovative ideas combine these areas and take some of Einstein's ideas to the outermost limits of cosmic possibility.
For a course syllabus in pdf format, see:www.foothill.edu/physics/Physics.12.Web.pdf