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Publisher's Summary

How do we know the universe is 13.8 billion years old? How do we know the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second? How do we know there are subatomic particles that live less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a second? Studying how physicists make discoveries is the best way to understand key developments in modern physics - from quantum mechanics, to the theory of relativity, to cosmology. 

In this 24-lesson course aimed at non-scientists, noted particle physicist Dr. Don Lincoln of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory covers more than a century of progress in physics, describing exactly how scientists reach the conclusions they do. He starts with the atom, which was long hypothesized, but wasn’t definitively proven until a paper by Albert Einstein in 1905. That was just the beginning, as researchers probed ever deeper into the atom’s complex structure, leading to the weird findings of quantum mechanics. Meanwhile, Einstein’s more famous work in relativity overturned conceptions of time and space, especially in the realm of the super-fast and ultra-massive.

Relativity and quantum theory are notoriously counterintuitive, but Dr. Lincoln shows why their conclusions must be true. He does the same for cosmology, which has advanced from the view that the Milky Way galaxy is all that exists, to the realization that there are likely a trillion of galaxies in the observable universe. Along the way, he deals with the Big Bang, black holes, dark matter, dark energy, and cosmic inflation, among other ideas. Some are purely speculative, but he points out what it would take to prove them.

The Evidence for Modern Physics is an intellectual roller-coaster ride that will amaze and enlighten. As Dr. Lincoln says, “You must wonder how we can say with such certainty that the world of the super-fast and ultra-small follow such bizarre rules. Well, you’re in luck, because that’s exactly what this course is about.”

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

©2021 The Great Courses (P)2021 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about The Evidence for Modern Physics

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  • Liam Ackerman
  • 2021-05-23

Strongly Recommend for Everyone

Dr. Lincoln mentioned that he considered this to be his best Great Courses entry to date, and I absolutely endorse this opinion. Accessible and funny, Dr. Lincoln outlines (at a high, conceptual level, although resources and references for those wishing to delve into more technical aspects) a brief history of why physicists claim to know what they know. In short, it is all based on repeatable evidence that has been expanding over centuries. Through the lecture series, important historical underpinnings are illustrated, which leads the listener to the current state of accepted science. Quite importantly, it also provides the audience with a window into what scientists actually do, which is ultimately an unfinished quest to figure out how the universe actually works. We, as a species, have much, much left to explore, and I personally love to follow the exciting progress and contemporary controversies in a more informed way, without having to get mired in equations and theory that can, at times, eclipse the larger picture.

9 people found this helpful

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  • R. Hughes
  • 2021-07-03

Brilliant company for a complex subject

Professor Don Lincoln is a perfect companion for an exploration of modern physics. He has a wonderful, warm and inviting voice and he speaks to the listener with authority as well as humility. I am not gifted in mathematics -- but thanks to Professor Lincoln's deft and lucid explanations of some of the most challenging discoveries in physics and cosmology as well as some of the more abstract concepts such as dark matter and dark energy, I have come away knowing a lot more about how we came to be here in the universe. I hope he can create other courses like this -- I would gladly follow him anywhere.

3 people found this helpful

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  • JoeV
  • 2021-07-19

Fantastic and approachable

Professor does a great job of connecting the dots from one discovery to the next to make the more stunning discoveries in physics believable. If you're considering this course you probably wonder how th8ngs like the age of the universe, or more surprisingly, the size of the visible universe, are known. If so, this is the course for you. Dark matter, dark energy, relativity, and more are covered and explained in an approachable and enjoyable manner.

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  • Chris Schardein
  • 2021-09-11

Truly inspirational lectures, thankful to learn

Professor Don Lincoln does an exceptional job connecting/relating modern day Quantum Physics theories, discoveries, and DATA back to what Einstein blindly theorized, and Classical Physics in general. Really did an excellent job helping me understand how Quantum Physics can be applied on a relatable, understandable level in my own life and experiences. I am inspired to shift careers the more I learn Physics, and Professor Don Lincoln substantially helped to reinforce that idea.

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  • Caro
  • 2021-08-01

you'll have to just trust me ?

This is the strangest rendering of physics and science I ever came across. I can't be sure who is supposed to benefit from this type of presentation. it tries to be humorous at TBE expense of accurate and is summer own to nearly insulting to my middle school child. I' advise the listener to verify most of what was presented here.