Introduction

Note: This course already started, but you can enroll in it anytime. 

Albert Einstein has become the icon of modern science. Following his scientific, cultural, philosophical, and political trajectory, this course aims to track the changing role of physics in the 20th and 21st centuries. Addresses Einstein's engagement with relativity, quantum mechanics, Nazism, nuclear weapons, philosophy, the arts, and technology, and raises basic questions about what it means to understand physics in its broader history.
 
Participants in the course will follow seventeen lessons, each of which will present a mix of science (no prerequisites!) and the broader, relevant cultural surround.  Some weeks will examine the physics concepts, while others will see excerpts of films or discuss modernist poetry that took off from relativity. Or we might be looking at the philosophical roots and philosophical consequences of Einstein’s works.  At other times we will be fully engaged with historical and political questions: the building, dropping, and proliferation of nuclear weapons, for example. 
 
Typically, in a lesson (about an hour of streamed material), there will be opportunities for individual mini-essay writing, some multiple choice questions to bolster your understanding of the science, and a group activity which might one week be a debate and another a collective commentary on elements of an artwork from 1920s Weimar Germany.
See this document for a high level overview, including how this could be used in a variety of classrooms. 

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Meet The Author

Peter Galison

Peter Galison

Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics at Harvard University

Professor Galison is the Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in both Physics and the History of Science in 1983. His publications include Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics (1997) and Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps: Empires of Time (2003). His most recent book, co-authored with Lorraine Daston, is titled Objectivity (2007).

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