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Time Travel, Tunneling, Tennis, and Tea
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Time Travel, Tunneling, Tennis, and Tea

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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Time Travel, Tunneling, Tennis, and Tea
What are the two big ideas of modern physics? How can nonscientists gain a handle on these ideas and the radical changes they bring to our philosophical thinking about the…
Episode 2 Heaven and Earth, Place and Motion
Understanding motion is the key to understanding space and time. Is there a "natural" state of motion? Learn why the ancients gave different answers to this question, and how Copernicus,…
Episode 3 The Clockwork Universe
Isaac Newton was born in 1642, the year that Galileo died. You'll learn how he built on the work of Galileo and Kepler, developing the three laws of motion and…
Episode 4 Let There Be Light!
The study of motion is not all there is to physics. By the 18th century, scientists were delving into the relationship between the two phenomena. Today, electromagnetism is known to…
Episode 5 Speed is Relative to What?
In mechanics (the branch of physics that studies motion), the principle of Galilean relativity holds - meaning that the laws of mechanics are the same for anything in uniform motion.…
Episode 6 Earth and the Ether - A Crisis in Physics
In the 1880s, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley conducted an experiment to determine the motion of Earth relative to the ether. You'll learn about their experiment, its shocking result, and…
Episode 7 Einstein to the Rescue
In 1905 a young Swiss patent clerk named Albert Einstein resolved the crisis that flowed from the Michelson-Morley result. When Einstein discarded the ether concept and asserted that the principle…
Episode 8 Uncommon Sense - Stretching Time
Why does the simple statement of relativity - that the laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion - lead directly to absurd-seeming situations that violate…
Episode 9 Muons and Time-Traveling Twins
As a dramatic example of what relativity implies, you will consider a thought experiment involving a pair of twins, one of whom goes on a journey to the stars and…
Episode 10 Escaping Contradiction - Simultaneity Is Relative
If, as relativity implies, "moving clocks run slow," who's to say which clock is moving?
Episode 11 Faster than Light? Past, Future, and Elsewhere
Relativity implies that the time order of events can be different in different reference frames. Does this wreak havoc with cause and effect? Finally, why is it that nothing can…
Episode 12 What about E=mc² and Is Everything Relative?
Shortly after publishing his 1905 paper on special relativity, Einstein realized that his theory required a fundamental equivalence between mass and energy, which he expressed in the equation E=mc2. Among…
Episode 13 A Problem of Gravity
Historically, the path to general relativity followed Einstein's attempt to incorporate gravity into relativity theory, which led to his understanding of gravity not as a force, but as a local…
Episode 14 Curved Spacetime
What causes spacetime to curve? Einstein's theory of relativity offers an answer, but for decades after he published it, there were only a few, very subtle tests of its validity.…
Episode 15 Black Holes
General relativity is similar to Newtonian gravitation except in the case of very dense objects such as collapsed stars. Learn why they are called black holes.
Episode 16 Into the Heart of Matter
With this lecture, you turn from relativity to explore the universe at the smallest scales. By the early 1900s, Ernest Rutherford and colleagues showed that atoms consist of a positively…
Episode 17 Enter the Quantum
The "stuff" of the universe - matter and energy - is not continuously subdividable but comes in discrete "chunks." This fundamental graininess of the universe has profound implications for the…
Episode 18 Wave or Particle?
Einstein's resolution of the photoelectric effect problem suggests that light consists of particles (photons). But how can this be reconciled with the understanding of light as an electromagnetic wave?
Episode 19 Quantum Uncertainty - Farewell to Determinism
Quantization places severe limits on our ability to observe nature at the atomic scale because it implies that the act of observation disturbs that which is being observed. The result…
Episode 20 Particle or Wave?
In 1923, Louis de Broglie proposed that, like light photons, particles of matter might also display wave properties. The wave nature of smaller particles such as electrons is quite visible…
Episode 21 Quantum Weirdness and Schrödinger's Cat
Wave-particle duality gives rise to strange phenomena, some of which are explored in Schrodinger's famous "cat in the box" example. Philosophical debate on Schrodinger's cat still rages.
Episode 22 The Particle Zoo
Are quarks, the particles that make up protons and neutrons, the truly elementary particles? What are the three fundamental forces that physicists identify as holding particles together? Are they manifestations…
Episode 23 Cosmic Connections
Why does physicist Freeman Dyson think that intelligence may persist into the infinite future, even as the universe evolves through an unimaginable richness of new forms and structures?
Episode 24 Toward a Theory of Everything
Why can't we answer questions about what happened before the Big Bang, or what goes on at the center of a black hole? Can we manage the formidable task of…

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