The physics of time
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HS136
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
We will explore the concept of time in everyday life, and how it changes via the theories of special and general relativity. We will look at real life examples of time dilation and how it must be accounted for. We will investigate the nature of time in the quantum world from the particle perspective and we will discover the future of the Universe via the fundamental law of entropy.
Radmila Topalovic holds a degree in Physics with Astrophysics and a PhD in Astrochemistry. She has written articles for The Guardian Starwatch column and The Mercury Night Sky column, and is a co-author of Stargazing: A beginner's guide to astronomy. Radmila was an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, she is currently Programme Leader for Science and Engineering at Kaplan International College.
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?
- History of timekeeping (sundials to atomic clocks) – links to the Earth, Sun and Moon.
- Time dilation (special relativity) and examples
- Gravitational time dilation (general relativity) and examples
- The nature of time for electrons and photons
- Planck time and the Big Bang
- The second law of thermodynamics and the fate of the Universe.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- describe how we keep track of time and why our calendar is the way it is
- explain the concept of time dilation and its relevance to everyday life
- explain how time slows down in a gravitational field
- describe the arrow of time from the perspective of elementary particles
- State the Planck time and it’s connection to the Big Bang
- State the second law of thermodynamics and explain how it governs the evolution of the Universe.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No previous knowledge is required. However an enthusiasm for learning and an open and critical mind will enhance your enjoyment and benefit from this course.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Lecture - all information will be supplied via Powerpoint slides which will be made available for download. Be prepared to contribute to class discussion and group work.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
There are no other costs but you will require a notepad and pen if you wish to take notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
HS160 Physics the fundamental science
HS155 Introduction to quantum physics
To learn about additional courses, please also look at the broader science and nature website.
If you are on Twitter and want to get course notifications and other tweets, please follow us at
Rad heads up Science & Engineering at Kaplan International College in London Bridge, having spent more than seven years at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich developing and delivering world-class education programmes. She holds a degree in Physics with Astrophysics and a PhD in Astrochemistry, and has taught physics, maths and astronomy for almost ten years. Her biggest passions are quantum physics and astrobiology. https://twitter.com/Rad_T
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.