What is the course about?
According to string theory, entities which we usually think of as particles such as electrons and quarks are in reality
objects called strings. Just as the different vibrations of the strings on a guitar create different sounds, so the different
vibrations of the strings in theoretical physics create different particles. With its promise of answering questions about black holes, gravity and dark matter/energy, string theory has captivated many physicists for the past 50 years. In this course, we will look at string theory in a non-technical way, uncovering both its aesthetic appeal and explanatory potential, and consider what the prospects are for this remarkable theory.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• Fundamentals – what is string theory? A gentle introduction to physics in eleven dimensions
• M-Theory – the unification of competing string theories
• Black Holes and Quantum Gravity – how string theory might explain some puzzles of physics
• Phenomenal Branes – relating string theory to reality, from the very small to the very large
• Too Many Universes – criticisms of string theory and evidence of fading popularity?
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Explain what is meant by string theory, and the relationship of the theory to modern physics.
Describe how string theory has evolved over the past 50 years.
- Identify the ways in which string theory explains phenomena such as black holes and quantum gravity.
- Describe the relationship between string theory and reality as we experience it.
- Identify some of the most important criticisms of string theory.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for beginners. No prior knowledge of physics or mathematics is assumed or required, but the
course is designed to be of interest to those who have studied these areas as well.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught in a number of different ways including presentations with visual examples, discussions
and group work. Work outside class will be optional.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no additional costs. If you wish to take notes you will find it useful to have pen and paper, but the Powerpoints will be made available online.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Please look in the science and nature area on the website for more courses.