Theory of Relativity: Happy Centenary!

Ref: C2340683

As a VIth physics student in the early 60s, coming across Einstein's relativity theories was a baffling and mind-blowing experience. How we argued about them! Could their weird predicitons really be true? Clocks telling different times? Twins at birth being re-united years later but now of different ages? In the intervening years these whacky predicitons have been confirmed, and many more. From being something on the edge of physics 9as Einstein himself was in his years at Princeton), relatvity has now found its rightful home as one of the pillars of modern physics - your daily life couldn't work without taking it into account! So maybe you owe it to yourself to find out a bit more about this underlying theory, its strange ideas and even stranger predictions. Not to mention the many fascinating ways that Relativity has survived all the tests that sceptical researchers have thrown at it. Why not come along to this Centenary celebration of all things Relativity?

Course aim

In 1919 a British astronomer observed a total eclipse of the Sun in South America. His results propelled a little-known German patent-clerk to instant, world-wide celebrity. Einstein's Relativity was born. Celebrate its Centenary in this Course.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • This course is about a specific topic in physics. A certain basic vocabulary like gravity, space, velocity, etc., would be useful. There will be some maths e.g some algebra would be useful now and then.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe the essentials of the Special theory of relativity e.g. its predictions about moving clocks.
  • Describe the essentials of the General theory of relativity e.g. its view of space and time and its fresh insights into the nature and causes of gravity.
  • Give an account of some of the different ways that the theories have been tested both in the laboratory and in practical applications.
  • Give an account of how Relarivity theory plays a part in modern physics and technology
  • Describe briefly how Relativity fits into the larger picture that modern physics has pieced together over the last hundred years.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Tutorial Handouts will be supplied throughout the sessions, and they will be partially referenced at the time. You should be prepared to devote some time during the week to reading them through at your own pace.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • At the end of each session you will have the opportunity to note down two items that you feel you have learnt.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • Pen and paper is mostly what is needed - plus a basic interest in the area and a desire to learn more.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Pre-course reading around a topic may be useful. Some appreciation of basic GCSE physics - speed, mass, 3D, etc is useful.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

Theory of Relativity: Happy Centenary!

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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