What Einstein Got Wrong

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth the time This series of lectures presents some difficult and complex issues of physics in an understandable fashion. And as the title emphasizes, it focuses on issues on which Albert Einstein either struggles or simple erred. This is a very important illustration of the difficulties and limitations of the scientific process: even the greatest genius of the 20th century will not get everything right...propose a theory, follow the data, and realize the theory may be wrong. This essential element of uncertainty of the scientific process would only reinforce the science-deniers in American society who remain mired in their limited concrete-thinking stage of cognitive development, but in reality, these cement-heads do not watch The Great Courses.
Date published: 2020-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enlightening A wonderful survey of the development of Physics in the 20th century from a unique perspective: what elements did the greatest mind of the 20th century get not quite right? This illustrates how the progress of science is uncertain and messy: hypotheses are advanced and the empiric data that follow may support or refute the hypotheses. Even the greatest genius may be wrong. Science-deniers, almost all of whom are stuck in concrete-thinking, and unable to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, could cite this course as evidence that science is false (and I do allude to our chief executive's comments of the last 24 hours in reference to the California fires), but in reality these cement-heads will never choose to survey this course.
Date published: 2020-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Good Presentation and Very Informative The title of this course misled me. I thought it focused only on Einstein’s theory of relativity and his rejection of quantum mechanics. However, the lectures go beyond this to cover Black Holes, Dark Matter, Gravitational Waves, Unified Field Theory, The Big Bang, Cosmology, and even Time Travel. Dr. Hooper is an excellent presenter. He takes difficult subjects and makes them understandable. Considering the subject matter, this was not easy to do. The only lectures that I had trouble following were Quantum Mechanics and Time Travel. For instance, how do atoms exist as mass and waves at the same time? How can a particle in an entangled pair be affected by the sister particle faster than the speed of light? How could a cat be dead and alive at the same time? Regarding Time Travel, this was simply over my head, but still interesting. Dr. Hooper covered a lot of ground in 12 lectures. I think this was just the right amount because he presents in such a clean manner. He has a definite talent, and I hope he does more programs. The course makes one wonder how fast science has grown in recent, modern history to include the structure of atoms, light quanta, cosmology, et cetera. Where will we be in another hundred years? Take this course – It will entertain you and greatly expand your knowledge.
Date published: 2020-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What Einstein Got Wrong I thought this course was excellent in most ways. I love the study of the universe, quantum theory, etc. etc., but I am just a novice who dabbles in it. I found the courses enlightening and confirming of some ideas I had already read about. However, at times, the professor used words I was unfamiliar with and so I didn't quite get what he was referring to. This was also true of the diagrams. I wished he had taken a little bit more time to go over the illustrations. However, on the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the course.
Date published: 2020-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What Einstein got Wrong This professor was precise and covered the topics with great examples. As a professor, I can appreciate his preparation and delivery.
Date published: 2020-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very informative Although I am enjoying the lectures I had hoped a bit more explanation of the idea of time warp and space curvature. Still, quite interesting.
Date published: 2020-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What Einstein Got Wrong Well organized satellite view of Einstein's work at a level of detail that remains engaging and thought provoking. I enjoyed this review.
Date published: 2020-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Certainly one of the best courses I've done. Prof. Hooper explained everyting at exactly the right level for me and I am now a lot more comfortable with the concepts of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and the thought processes that led to these theories. My one criticism, along with other reviewers, was the constant change of camera angle which involved Prof Hooper contnually turning from one to the other. This was SO distracting and the Prof didn't look at all comfortable with it either. The set was pretty naff as well with those silly ornaments.
Date published: 2020-02-16
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What Einstein Got Wrong
Course Trailer
What Einstein Got Right: Special Relativity
1: What Einstein Got Right: Special Relativity

Einstein is the most famous and influential scientist of modern times. But no one is perfect, and his powerful intuition led him astray in several key areas of physics, which are now among the most fruitful areas of the discipline. Begin your study of Einstein mistakes by looking at what he got spectacularly right, starting with his revolutionary special theory of relativity....

30 min
What Einstein Got Right: General Relativity
2: What Einstein Got Right: General Relativity

Einstein's greatest triumph was his general theory of relativity, which built on special relativity and led to a radically new understanding of the geometry of space and time. Einstein followed a rocky road to this breakthrough, with mistakes that hampered his progress and almost gave the honor of discovery to a rival....

30 min
Einstein's Rejection of Black Holes
3: Einstein's Rejection of Black Holes

The most astounding prediction of general relativity was considered so absurd by Einstein that he rejected it out of hand. Learn how the concept of black holes emerged from his theory and how he dismissed it, even as other researchers were gaining a detailed understanding of the theoretical properties of these strange objects. Only after Einstein's death were black holes proved to exist....

29 min
Einstein and Gravitational Waves
4: Einstein and Gravitational Waves

General relativity predicts that objects with mass radiate extremely faint gravitational waves when they interact. Einstein was reluctant to accept this idea, but after his death evidence began accumulating that gravity waves do, in fact, exist-as shown by the detection of gravity waves from distant colliding black holes starting in 2015....

31 min
Cosmology and the Cosmological Constant
5: Cosmology and the Cosmological Constant

Investigate what Einstein reportedly called his "biggest blunder": his insistence that the universe is static, despite the prediction of general relativity that space is either expanding or contracting. Explore why general relativity is inconsistent with a static universe, and chart astronomer Edwin Hubble's pioneering observations that prove we live in an expanding cosmos....

28 min
The Cosmological Constant and Dark Energy
6: The Cosmological Constant and Dark Energy

Einstein tried to make general relativity compatible with a static universe by adding a cosmological constant to his equations, a move he later regretted. Learn how this "blunder" now looks prescient in light of the discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, driven by some unknown dark energy. Einstein appears to have been right to add the constant, but for the wrong reason....

28 min
What Einstein Got Right: Light Quanta
7: What Einstein Got Right: Light Quanta

Along with relativity, Einstein's major contributions to physics include his proof that light is made up of discrete quanta, an insight that led to the quantum revolution. Retrace his route to this key discovery. As with relativity, his genius was to break out of the classical mode of thinking about light and matter, going wherever experiment, logic, and mathematics led him....

27 min
Does God Play Dice with the Universe?
8: Does God Play Dice with the Universe?

Probe Einstein's devotion to the principle of determinism, seeing how it prompted him to reject the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics accepted by most of his peers. Einstein famously said that "God does not play dice," meaning that quantum events only look probabilistic. He sought to make the quantum world less weird by finding a deterministic version of the theory....

27 min
Quantum Entanglement
9: Quantum Entanglement

Follow Einstein's quest to overturn the standard view of quantum mechanics known as the Copenhagen interpretation. Focus on his famous EPR paper, written with two collaborators, which identified a paradoxical phenomenon later called entanglement. Study two proposals to supplant the Copenhagen view: the "hidden variable" and "many worlds" interpretations....

28 min
The Search for a Unified Field Theory
10: The Search for a Unified Field Theory

Einstein spent the last decades of his life searching for a unified field theory that would unite general relativity with Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism. But by then, quantum theory had superseded Maxwell's work, rendering the entire exercise futile. See how this quest has nonetheless stimulated ideas for unification in proposals such as string theory....

28 min
Problems with Time Travel
11: Problems with Time Travel

Einstein's friend Kurt Gödel discovered a solution to the general relativity equations that implied the possibility of time travel, an idea that Einstein found interesting but impossible. Was he right to dismiss time travel? Explore other solutions to Einstein's equations that posit the existence of rotating black holes and worm holes, which may be portals to the past and future....

27 min
What Other Giants Got Wrong
12: What Other Giants Got Wrong

As a scientist who sometimes got things wrong, Einstein was in good company. In this last lecture, investigate the mistakes of three other great thinkers: Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton. Despite their triumphs in astronomy and physics, they, like Einstein, sometimes pursued intriguing but false leads. Consider the examples that their careers set for how science progresses....

32 min
Dan Hooper

To really pay full tribute to Albert Einstein, I'd argue that we need to appreciate not only his great success, but also his challenges, mistakes, and errors.


University of Wisconsin, Madison


University of Chicago

About Dan Hooper

Dan Hooper is a senior scientist and the head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). He is also Associate Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Hooper received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was later a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford and the David Schramm Fellow at Fermilab.

Dr. Hooper's research focuses on the interface between particle physics and cosmology, covering topics such as dark matter, dark energy, supersymmetry, neutrinos, extra dimensions, and ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. He has authored more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and he has given an even larger number of technical talks at scientific conferences and university seminars and colloquia.

Dr. Hooper is the author of two books written for nonscientists: LDark Cosmos and Nature's Blueprint. He has also written for popular magazines such as Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. He gives many public lectures and is frequently called on by the media to comment on science news. Dr. Hooper's television appearances include Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman and Space's Deepest Secrets, and he has been interviewed on NPR's Science Friday.

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