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

2,249 ratings
771 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

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.

Mar 21, 2020

Thanks for helping me understand the Special Theory of Relativity, covered a lot of ground but repeated it so it really could sink in. Like your style and want to thank you for your assistance. Thanks

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101 - 125 of 758 Reviews for Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

By Thierry C

Jun 22, 2020

It’s been like watching a good movie or reading an absorbing book; it ended too soon.

I'd say the course gives a large enough insight to the special theory of relativity with the right final touch on the general theory to complete the basic understanding, and maybe to get the audience hooked for the next release. I’ve taken the bait.

Finally a genuine thanks to the instructor Larry Randles Lagerstrom and his team for the contents and their dedication

By Charles H

Aug 24, 2017

This was a very enjoyable and revealing course, covering what at first may appear to be a somewhat impenetrable subject. But the step by step approach and sensible progression of topics made the subject matter easily understandable, and the obtaining of that understanding a joyful and insightful experience. It can't be easy to teach such a course to camera, so big thanks to Larry Randells Lagerstrom.... he definitely deserves a strong lager!!

By Henri d L

Jul 31, 2020

A fabulous course giving great notions and ideas of how things operate in the universe. Beyond the interesting part of this class, you will get a noteworthy approach enabling all to understand how things came out to be discovered. I think it makes sciences more accessible and anchored in the reality of our lives. Anyway, I loved it, the teacher is outstanding. It will be useful for my 12th grade in France and most importantly my future!

By Paresh V

May 4, 2017

This was not just a course, but an experience in learning. The professor took us through a journey of learning about a topic very difficult understand, and patiently led us through the learning experience with right amount of maths and excellent use of examples, quotes etc., to keep the interest alive all through. I wonder if some such course on General Theory of Relativity can be there, even if that is perhaps more mathematical.

By Maria E H

May 10, 2017

This course is superb! The professor explains complicated concepts and mathematical equations in the simplest manner possible. I learned a ton!

Note: the course keeps mathematics at a minimum, so if you want a quantitative approach to the Special Theory of Relativity, this is not for you. However, even if you are looking for a quantitative approach, this course will enhance your conceptual understanding of Einstein's theory.

By Бенуа М

Oct 3, 2019

An amazingly clear overview of the matter. The professor takes it step-by-step, religiously. I succeeded the course, but now I think I want to do it again, taking more notes, doing all the homework (which I did none). Don't rush! It's fundamentally important for your understanding of the universe.

As a reading, I recommend "A Journey into Gravity and Spacetime", by John A. Wheeler. Perfect further reading for this course.

By Jared F

Sep 15, 2017

Until I took this thoughtful, extremely well organized course, I could not get my head around many of the weird concepts in Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, no matter how much I read about it. Prof. Lagerstrom is to be congratulated for the very excellent, logical manner in which he has taught this course. I would highly recommend this course to anyone seeking a great mental challenge and scientific curiosity.

By Remko O

Jun 6, 2019

I seriously love this course. It gave me a lot of insight in the realistic world. I love the way it is explained, it could not have been better! Thank you so much! This is the first course I have ever done, and I think I will move on towards the General Theory of Relativity. So much thanks again! This course changed my life, positively. I'm more motivated than I ever was. You are doing a great job, I love it. -Remko

By Rodolfo R A A

May 18, 2020

As a geologist engineer, this course showed me that no modern physics can be out of reach. We all can play with these ideas and get a solid understanding of them. Prof. Lagerstrom really made the most important points clear and I got a clear picture regarding the Special Theory of Relativity, among history of science and other stuff as well. Great, solid course of which I can only feel thankful to Prof. Lagerstrom.

By Ona M P

Aug 16, 2020

My idea was to undestand the Special Theory of Relativity from a qualitative point of view and this course really accomplished that. Although I don't speak English in my day to day, the teacher made it easy to undestand not using a lot of difficult vocabulary and writing and drawing on the board. I highly recommend this course for those who are curious and want to learn more about the Special Theory of Relativity.

By Maria M C

Apr 29, 2018

Wonderful course that has opened so many doors of thought and knowledge. Thanks to the professor, Larry Randles Lagerstrom for his instruction and for bringing this amazing course of one of the greatest minds of all time to Coursera. My interest in physics has been piqued and i will continue to pursue a deeper understanding after this wonderful course. Thank you again to the professor and to the team at Coursera.

By Jorge A V

Dec 7, 2020

This is a great course for understanding concepts as the principle of relativity, the constancy of velocity of light, the relativity of simultaneity, the invariant interval, time dilation, length contraction, the famous equation E=mc^2 and a short introduction to the General Theory of Relativity with the Principle of Equivalence, everything in a quantitative and qualitative way given by an excellent professor.

By Matthew F

Aug 16, 2018

This is a very wonderful course. I really enjoyed it. The professor really shared the insight of having a struggle to understand will lead to an ennobling, enriched experience and how we can look at the big picture of what the universe is like and how this works. Understanding Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity really helped a lot (in context and some key concepts of space and time). Thank you professor.

By Fu-Cheng C

May 22, 2020

The course is a beautiful marriage of history, humanity, and science. The pace is slow at first but picks up steadily. I never thought I would ever understand special relativity but thanks to Professor Lagerstrom's thorough explanations, I am now comfortable with the concept and see the world in a different light. I wish Professor Lagerstrom will eventually produce a similar course on general relativity.

By George P

Dec 2, 2020

Dr Lagerstrom is a fantastic instructor and makes the most fearful physics seem ordinary. The course layout was perfect along with the pace. Also, Dr Lagerstrom made the concepts detailed with the right amount of math. I didnt believe I could understand Einstein without all the math. I enjoyed this opportunity to get a deeper understanding of one law of the universe and am eager to learn more.

By Anish K

Mar 16, 2020

Amazing introductory Course for Special Relativity. Might be a bit too basic at times w.r.t to maths but hey!, it never hurts to listen to things for a second time. Will definitely recommend to anyone looking to get into higher level physics. Being a High School student myself, I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks a lot to Stanford and Prof for making education freely available to all.

By Moya H

Aug 25, 2017

This course is engaging and interesting. The lecturer inspires you to learn and open your mind. The course itself can be hard in areas but if you stick with it, eventually you can work it out. There is a fair bit of algebra (which I never studied at school) but I still made it! I recommend this to anyone who wants to understand time and space and be drawn into the fantastic world of Einstein.

By Michel A

Feb 28, 2020

After reading almost a lifetime books about the works and accomplishments of Einstein (not being a graduated scientist but huge fan of the topic), it is amazing to follow this this course and explore this world in a whole new sight. Fantastic stuff brought by the best instructor by far. I think I will start all over again. A lot is much more obvious now, or is it? Triple A+ for Larry. Thank you.

By Wallace C

Apr 24, 2018

I can't stress enough how good this course is. It's the best course i've ever taken in any subject. It's really impressive how much energy, thought, patience, care was put here. I'm deeply thankful for this. You guys made me so happy. Almost everything someone need to know about STR is here. And the teacher... maybe my favourite physics teacher ever. This guy is the golden standard of teaching.

By Bojan D

Sep 27, 2020

This is an excellent course for everyone who is interested in Einstein's special theory of relativity. All concepts about the theory are presented in a simple and intuitive way, therefore anyone with basic math knowledge will understand it easily.

Also, professor Larry Lagerstrom is a very charismatics person, and his talent for teaching other people made this course an amazing experience.

By luiz f g

Jul 29, 2017

This is a greate course. Many thanks to all involved in providing such a very well elaborated course, modeling such a complex subject in a "simplified" version that is reachable by many people that would be disencouraged by maths and formulas intrinsic to the subject. Thanks also to Professor LArry by making the course even more entusiastic and attractive by given many examples along it.

By Vijay S

Oct 7, 2020

The course is very well designed for someone with little or no knowledge of the subject matter. The only quibble I had was with respect to the time spent on the very basics of the maths and what I felt was somewhat repetitive nature of some of the points made, if adjusted for that one could lop off several hours from the course length and might actually encourage more participation.


Mar 5, 2017

This is the first course I ever finished on coursera! Thanks to Prof. Lagerstrom for making the course so easy and engaging for people with any level of maths and physics knowledge to follow and pick up. I've really enjoyed the whole journey and gained knowledge about this universe. It's definitely worth recommending to anyone who's interested to know more about the world around us.

By Ken H

Dec 28, 2018

Great course. The instructor goes slow and repeats important points for maximum retention. Key equations are rigorously derived (requiring only high school algebra) but are rarely required in the weekly quizzes. After completing this course I have a better understanding of special relativity and (thanks to the final week) better understand its relationship to general relativity.

By Pawel P

May 23, 2018

Fascinating course and a material presented in a super approachable way. Many paradoxes thoroughly explained - for the first time for me everything from start to finish was crystal clear. Amazing how almost all of these interesting phenomena, including Lorentz transformation, can be derived simply by using pythagorean theorem and common sense. Can I have a second helping please!