Richard Wolfson

Richard Wolfson >

25
Videos
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Time Travel, Tunneling, Tennis, and Tea
Episode 1 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 physical world?
Heaven and Earth, Place and Motion
Episode 2 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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, Kepler, and Galileo laid the foundation for a new approach.
Black Holes
Episode 15 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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.
Toward a Theory of Everything
Episode 24 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 combining quantum physics with general relativity? Physics may well be…
Let There Be Light!
Episode 4 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 be responsible for the chemical interactions of atoms and molecules…
The Clockwork Universe
Episode 3 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 the concept of universal gravitation. You'll learn why Newton's laws…
Earth and the Ether - A Crisis in Physics
Episode 6 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 the resulting theoretical crisis.
Quantum Weirdness and Schrödinger's Cat
Episode 21 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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.
Einstein to the Rescue
Episode 7 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 of relativity holds for all of physics, mechanics as well…
Muons and Time-Traveling Twins
Episode 9 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 returns to Earth younger than her sister!
Speed is Relative to What?
Episode 5 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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. Is the same true for the laws of electromagnetism?
A Problem of Gravity
Episode 13 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 manifestation of geometry in curved spacetime.
Escaping Contradiction - Simultaneity Is Relative
Episode 10 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
If, as relativity implies, "moving clocks run slow," who's to say which clock is moving?
Uncommon Sense - Stretching Time
Episode 8 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 our commonsense notions of space and time?
Quantum Uncertainty - Farewell to Determinism
Episode 19 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 is Werner Heisenberg's famous Uncertainty Principle. What exactly does this…
Particle or Wave?
Episode 20 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 and leads to many unusual phenomena, including quantum tunneling mentioned…
Faster than Light? Past, Future, and Elsewhere
Episode 11 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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 go faster than light?
Curved Spacetime
Episode 14 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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. How has modern astrophysics changed all that?
Wave or Particle?
Episode 18 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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?
Cosmic Connections
Episode 23 of Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
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?