Chevron Left
Back to Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity by Stanford University

4.9
stars
2,185 ratings
743 reviews

About the Course

In this course we will seek to “understand Einstein,” especially focusing on the special theory of relativity that Albert Einstein, as a twenty-six year old patent clerk, introduced in his “miracle year” of 1905. Our goal will be to go behind the myth-making and beyond the popularized presentations of relativity in order to gain a deeper understanding of both Einstein the person and the concepts, predictions, and strange paradoxes of his theory. Some of the questions we will address include: How did Einstein come up with his ideas? What was the nature of his genius? What is the meaning of relativity? What’s “special” about the special theory of relativity? Why did the theory initially seem to be dead on arrival? What does it mean to say that time is the “fourth dimension”? Can time actually run more slowly for one person than another, and the size of things change depending on their velocity? Is time travel possible, and if so, how? Why can’t things travel faster than the speed of light? Is it possible to travel to the center of the galaxy and return in one lifetime? Is there any evidence that definitively confirms the theory, or is it mainly speculation? Why didn’t Einstein win the Nobel Prize for the theory of relativity? About the instructor: Dr. Larry Lagerstrom is the Director of Academic Programs at Stanford University’s Center for Professional Development, which offers graduate certificates in subjects such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, data mining, nanotechnology, innovation, and management science. He holds degrees in physics, mathematics, and the history of science, has published a book and a TED Ed video on "Young Einstein: From the Doxerl Affair to the Miracle Year," and has had over 30,000 students worldwide enroll in his online course on the special theory of relativity (this course!)....

Top reviews

SS
Dec 8, 2019

Almost anyone can learn about the special theory of relativity from these lectures. I actually can't believe that I studied from a professor who teaches in the USA and in so simple way. I am grateful.

AP
Aug 11, 2020

It was wonderful experience to know the special theory of relativity from Larry, who has presented the course in very simple way to understand. Thanks a lot to Larry for providing such a good session.

Filter by:

26 - 50 of 731 Reviews for Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

By Jessica C

Nov 9, 2019

A good balance of qualitative and quantitative elements. Perfect for someone who is interested in the Special Theory of Relativity but did not get enough from introductory books.

By Arnaud D

Nov 10, 2018

The course covers the base of special theory of relativity, as well as historical background. The course is easy to follow. The assements are easy also. Really enjoyable course !

By SİLİ H

Nov 27, 2019

this course gave me more curiosity about einsten, (even though I haven't completed it yet :)) if you are interested in einstein and his theory, I suggest you take a look

By Ibrahim U

Oct 22, 2019

Each concept is lucidly explained with full context given behind each contest. Recommend everybody to give it a try!!

By Daniel P

Nov 2, 2019

Es un curso largo y lento pero permite aprender los fundamentos de la teoria y retenerlos para siempre. Buen curso.

By Durairaj R

Dec 31, 2017

got to know a lot with concise and yet detailed explaination with simple requirements of mathematics and physics.

By Abanoub

Dec 13, 2019

thanks alot, all credits to Dr.Larry Randles Lagerstrom and Coursera team

By Gefei L

Nov 19, 2019

Easy to comprehend for people with non-science background. Great course!

By Akarsha S

Dec 17, 2018

Interesting course. Professor is thorough and explained it brilliantly.

By Rene J

Nov 17, 2018

I just happen to think that Larry is a splendid lecturer, (as it were)

By Michael D

Dec 6, 2019

Great course - well structured, and expertly guided.

By Abhishek P

Oct 24, 2019

Amazing course teaches a lot about the universe.

By AMRUTHA S R

Oct 3, 2019

The most complicated theory was made very easy.

By Parthip P

Oct 10, 2019

it is a very interesting and unique chapter

By Vasurva W

Dec 25, 2019

I like the way the instructor explains.

By Ankit S

Dec 19, 2019

wonderful!! more than as expected

By Mothiswaran

Dec 23, 2019

Good place to learn

By 林辰昕

Nov 10, 2019

Everything's nice.

By Mohammad A

Oct 25, 2019

EXCELLENT

By John G

Jun 26, 2017

Can't believe this course is taught to Stanford students (or any college students). The lecturer is soooo repetitive. He tells you what he's going to tell you, then he tells you and then he recaps. And he summarizes it all at the start of the next lecture. And there's a separate summary lecture at the end of each week. That said, he explains the material well. Cut the lectures by 2/3 and you'll have a 5-star course.

By Peter O

May 18, 2018

The course was too simple and the derivations too slow. I expected more involved math and harder quizzes.

By sandesh k

May 16, 2017

no math

By Ben P

Feb 16, 2017

This fascinating course presented by a historian of science covers not just the basics of special relativity but the historical context as well. The lecturer starts off each week with some Einstein quotes and goes to great depths to explain the basic concepts at a level that is accessible to students with minimal experience of maths and physics. The concepts are firmly drilled in with plenty of optional quizzes after each mini-topic, and a summary video at the end of each week. The lectures are long but anyone short on time has the option to go straight to the weekly summary/quiz, and/or play videos at up to 2x speed (especially in weeks 2 and 3).

The main highlight for me was the explanation of the famous Twins Paradox and other related paradoxes which are resolved by understanding frames of reference and the relativity of simultaneity. Another bonus was an explanation of the bending of light by gravity through a simple thought experiment involving an accelerated elevator.

Some important topics not covered in the course, or only hinted at, are: treatment of accelerated reference frames (required to derive the relativistic rocket equations), relativistic momentum and kinetic energy (required to calculate the rocket fuel required) and relativistic energy (used to derive Einstein's mass-energy equivalence formula).

Overall I highly recommend the course to anyone with the time and inclination.

By Dharil S

Sep 8, 2020

This was an amazing course. I'm a third-year undergraduate student pursuing BSc(HONS) Physics. Since I'm already well-equipped with calculus and algebra, most of the course content in terms of mathematics was pretty easy and trivial for me. However, Prof. Larry's teaching method was extremely impressive. For a course that requires you to alter your common sense, his narration was perfect and articulate, which I ultimately found to be helpful in nourishing and supporting my intellect on all of the deepest insights of special relativity. The course is comprehensively designed and the problem sets have insightful questions of varying difficulty. And, after completing this course, it seems to me that I have a deeper and better understanding of the subject than my friends who studied SR from other platforms.

I would recommend almost every student to take up this course; because special relativity is more about transforming and shaping your common sense rather than being a mere theory-laden subject.

I'm grateful to Stanford University-Coursera and of course, to all the faculty mentors who understood and responded to my questions at almost speed=c. And, as Prof. Larry requested us in Week 1 to remember something throughout the course, I'd like to re-emphasize the same to any prospective student of this course- "Festina Lente" (make haste slowly).

By Jean-Jacques W

Nov 19, 2020

The quality of this course can be described by just one word: Excellent!

As a former commercial instructor, I very much appreciated the didactic qualities of prof. Lagerstrom and his basic motto: Festina Lente

The theory of special relativity is presented step by step in an incremental, systematic and progressive manner.

This includes much repetition and a rather slow pace. But don't think to soon that you can skip some parts. Relativity is counter-intuitive and often confusing. So, be patient and follow the pace of the instructor. Do all of the practice and final quizzes. They are designed in such a way that you only get them right if you really understood the lectures.

The instructor doesn’t use slides but writes everything down on a white board. This is a strong didactic method: it forces you to follow all of the steps and invites you to take notes.

I particularly liked the biographical details and the background of Einstein's thinking. This makes it easier to understand the person of Einstein and the background of his thinking process.

At the beginning of the course the instructor offers as a bonus some good didactic advices on how to study (online).

Larry Lagerstrom and course assistants: thank you all for this terrific course!

(I wish there was a sixth star to add tot the review)