Physics unravelled: navigating the maze of string theory
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: Keeley Street
Course Code: HS243
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.
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.
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 City Lit website for more courses.
Dr. Gary Retallick got his Phd in Physics at Kings college in London in 2006. His dissertation explored the physics of time, touching upon relativity, field equations, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics and metaphysics. Followng a stint within the world of teaching philosophy, Gary now teaches physics and mathematics at both Birkbeck College and the Open University alongside running several physics, chemistry and maths courses at City Lit (incl. Cornish).
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.