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Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime

Narrated by: Benjamin Schumacher
Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
Categories: Science & Math, Astronomy
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It all started with Newton’s apple. Or did it? Gravity controls everything from the falling of an apple to the rising of ocean’s tides to the motions of the heavens above. If you’ve ever wondered how this most puzzling force works across our entire universe, you will be delighted by this 24-part course that is accessible to any curious person, regardless of your science education. No other product on the market presents the subject of gravity in as much detail as this course, which will follow the past 400 years of research and experimentation in the field.

Your guide is Professor Schumacher, an award-winning educator, prominent theoretical physicist, and protégé of John Archibald Wheeler, the distinguished gravity theorist who first coined the term “black hole”.  

• Explore the intriguing features of gravity, including: why a hammer does not fall faster than a feather (neglecting air resistance, of course!); how astronauts float in space when they are still within reach of Earth’s gravitational pull; and how gravity shapes the four-dimensional fabric of the universe.

• Become immersed in the fascinating study of gravity, experiencing the scientific breakthroughs alongside the great minds of physics: Galileo, Newton, Cavendish, Einstein, Hubble, Hawking, and more.

• Examine a recent discovery: that the expansion of our universe is accelerating due to an as-yet-unexplained cosmic antigravity known as dark energy.

• Delve into the Holy Grail of contemporary physics: the search for a theory that encompasses both gravity, which extends its reach across the cosmos, and quantum mechanics, which governs events at the smallest possible scale.

In Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime, you will travel to the very edges of modern physics to explore several revolutionary theories and discover that physics is just as exciting today as it was when Newton sat by that fateful apple tree.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2013 The Great Courses (P)2013 The Teaching Company, LLC

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  • Mandi
  • 2019-05-05

Excellent Lectures about Gravity (Physics)

I just finished listened to these lecture series by Prof Benjamin Schumacher. I enjoyed learning about the history of our understanding about gravity. While I am familiar with the physics from classical mechanics, I was glad to go into detail about the physics from general relativity. The included pdf (220 pages) was a nice addition to the lectures. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“But a solid body held together by gravity, by a long-range attractive force between all masses, will tend to pull itself into a spherical shape. Every piece of the body is attracted to every other, even the pieces on the other side. And a sphere is the shape that minimizes the distances between all the pieces. The more massive the body, the stronger this tendency will be. But gravity is so weak that a solid body has to be many hundreds or even a thousand kilometers across before this sphere-making proclivity of gravity will win out.”
In explaining the tidal effect, Prof Schumacher instructs students to “imagine the fall of a spherical cloud of apples.” And then with a simple explanation from Newton’s law of universal gravitation he explains the mysterious force that squeezes in from the sides and also stretches out along the up-and-down direction the cloud as it falls freely.
Many lectures are ended with a preview or teaser of the next lecture, followed by a kind remark to the students, “And I’ll see you then.” I can imagine Prof Schumacher given this remark in the university.
The questions and answers on the pdf document are well though-out. The most thought-provoking question to me was Question 1 of Lecture 9: “How can we tell whether a piece of anomalous data requires us to change our basic theory?”
I recommend this lecture series to anyone interested in understanding gravity, tides, and black holes. I’m sure a future recording of the same lectures will be updated to include the important LIGO discovery in 2017.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Ron A. Parsons
  • 2019-01-29

Good freshman high school lecture

The information presented in these lectures
Spans the years 1600-1980
Nothing in the lectures covering the last
35 years, if you are totally unfamiliar with the
Topic it offers an historical perspective

27 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 2019-06-23

Great book!

Loved the content, the performance and all of it.

I was happy to hear about entropic gravity.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim Lee
  • 2019-08-18

In a word. EXCELLENT

Loved it and will listen again and again. This is the 4th or 5th book on the subject I have listened to. Each book enlightens the last. Wish I had started the journey years ago. Michio Kakus (sp?) Einsteins Relativity might be a beter place to start is you know nothing at all. It lays some good ground work that this one builds on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-08-27

Fascinating Story and Great Story Teller

I very much enjoyed this book. I am currently listening to it a second time as I know I missed some points I want to truly understand. Dr. Schumacher is an excellent writer and narrator. One of my favorite AudioBooks.

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  • Anthony Howes
  • 2019-08-07

Engaging exploration of a complex subject

I've listened to a few lectures/books on physics and in my opinion this is the best listen of them. Physics is a tricky subject to listen to due to the complex nature and mathematical formula. The professor does an excellent job of grounding the equations and explanations in everyday reality.

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  • Nick
  • Hartland, Wisconsin, United States
  • 2019-08-06

It’s a fun listen

I listened to this as I was driving around, mostly to and from work, and it was a great way to spend my time instead of listening to the same songs over and over. His voice was pleasing to listen to and these lectures made a complex topic easily understandable.