Happy 100th birthday General Relativity!

Graphic representing spacetime warping around the earth, with small inset photo of Einstein.

The general theory of relativity conceives of gravity as a result of curved space-time. (Public domain image by NASA.)

November 2015 is a landmark anniversary in the history of science. One hundred years ago this week — on November 25, 1915, to be precise — Albert Einstein unveiled the key equations underlying his theory of general relativity.

Learn more about this revolutionary insight into the physical world with these OCW courses and resources.

Starting points
8.022 Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism is designed for students seeking a deep and challenging introduction to electricity and magnetism. Professor Gabriella Sciolla’s notes for Lecture 11 (PDF) and Lecture 12 (PDF) explain how relativity is integral to a deep understanding of electricity and magnetism.

8.033 Relativity, normally taken by physics majors in their sophomore year, focuses on special relativity and an introduction to general relativity. OCW’s version by Professor Max Tegmark includes a complete set of lecture notes plus assignment and exam problems. Additional assignment and exam problems can be found in Bruce Knuteson’s month-long intensive course 8.20 Introduction to Special Relativity.

General relativity
8.962 General Relativity is MIT’s primary graduate course in general relativityOCW’s version, by Professors Ed Bertschinger and Scott Hughes, includes a detailed reading list and complete homework assignments.

Relativity and cosmology
Close observation of black holes and other cosmic phenomena has provided some of the best experimental validation of Einstein’s theories. Two OCW courses with video lectures — Alan Guth’s 8.286 The Early Universe and 8.224 Exploring Black Holes: General Relativity & Astrophysics by Ed Bertschinger and Edwin Taylor — are sure to illuminate these mysteries.

History and social context
Einstein’s work on relativity did not occur in a vacuum. Get the entire picture from Professor David Kaiser’s STS.042J Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century includes an extensive reading list. (And although it’s outside of OCW, check out Professor Kaiser’s November 8, 2015 piece in the New York Times, “How Politics Shaped General Relativity.”)

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