What Einstein Got Wrong

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
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Enjoyed very much. Prof made difficult concepts very accessible. I enjoyed his discussion of the thought processes that preceded the development of the various theories.
Date published: 2019-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course content This a great introduction to an understanding of the impact Einstein had on Physics and Astronomy. It provided a basic understanding of Einstein's concepts without the complex mathematics.
Date published: 2019-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Finally Get It This course is really well-taught-- it flows well and the professor gives clear and interesting explanations of ideas that are pretty hard for the average person to understand. I have watched a number of documentaries over the years that attempted to explain relativity and quantum mechanics, and it is usually mentioned that Einstein had a hard time accepting some aspects of quantum mechanics and things like black holes. But this is the first time I have been able to understand why that was, and to connect the dots from Einstein's work and all that came after. The format--what Einstein got right and wrong-- works really well. I learned a lot, and I gained a fuller understanding and appreciation for Einstein and his work.
Date published: 2019-07-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good job I learned lots it got me to think about lots Of things
Date published: 2019-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very informative and easy to understand You will find yourself going over and over a lecture so that you really understand what he is talking about.
Date published: 2019-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting and engaging approach to Physics Prof Hooper did an excellent job presenting complex topics, providing helpful analogies along the way. I was able to gain new and refreshing insights into topics I had previously covered in other courses. I particularly liked the way Prof Hooper presented Einstein (and other great trail blazers) as people, having strengths. weaknesses. and blind spots like everyone else. This approach also revealed the very human side of science - dependency upon reputation, the social aspects of acceptance of theories, and pure chance. I seldom if ever give a 5-star rating, but I do in this case, with enthusiasm.
Date published: 2019-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Yes, even Einstein is wrong occasionally. The instructor was in a critical mode here. In that mode he showed errors that Einstein made but made clear that his overall science was superb. Very enlightening series of lectures. Very glad i have it. Will watch again in the not distant future.
Date published: 2019-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More about what Einstein got right I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Doctor Hooper is a very good teacher and does a good job of making difficult concepts accessible. I'm not quite sure, though, why the title emphasizes what Einstein got wrong. There are only twelve lectures. Several were spent explaining Einstein's contributions to the point where the listener or viewer could understand what Einstein's mistakes were. And the final lecture was about other great scientists who made mistakes as well, just to show that Einstein was in good company. I think the course is more about how science progresses, with an emphasis on Einstein. Many other scientists were described as well, with their respective contributions and how they disagreed with, and corrected Einstein, resulting in our modern, more complete understanding. And since it seems to me that the real message of the course is how science progresses, I could wish that this course were longer, following Einstein chronologically through his life and going into more detail about both quantum mechanics and relativity, giving a more complete background and showing how many scientists worked together to bring us to our present understanding. Still, I think this is an excellent course and recommend it highly.
Date published: 2019-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of Developments Great course that describes the history of the major developments related to Einstein's work. It's mostly lecture, so audio would be a good choice although I streamed it.
Date published: 2019-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptionally well done! Aside from the slightly annoying, entirely too frequent camera changes, this was exceptionally enlightening. Just enough of the questions shown, although I had to Google Einstein's field equations. Exceptionally well done!
Date published: 2018-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Presentation This course succeeded in not just discussing what Einstein got wrong, but gave a clear and concise explanation of what Einstein got right. Without belaboring the mathematics, Dr. Hooper presented the fundamental of quantum mechanics. His engaging presentation explained a convoluted subject with RELATIVE clarity. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2018-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Einstein Was Human! This was an excellent overview of Albert Einstein and his thinking on key issues of the universe and it's operational laws. Dr. Hooper provides a very good survey of Einstein's ideas and thought experiments. I do do feel Dr. Hooper should release from the script and provide the deep knowledge he obviously has of the subject. I greatly enjoyed the lecture set and Dr. Hooper's presentation. I watched the video option although with the limited graphics included the audio set would also be a good method o learning. Well with the time and money!
Date published: 2018-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course for Non-Scientists This course is a must if you have an interest in Einstein. It's more directed at those who do not already know a great deal about Einstein and the science that surrounds him. I learned a great deal about one of the greatest scientists in history, many other giants of science, and gained a better understanding of how our universe works. Dr.Hooper understands this material thoroughly and explains it very well. The on slight quibble I have is that I would ask him to smile occasionally. It's a serious subject indeed. It's just a personal preference of mine. I would advise anyone who has not studied Einstein to get this course. Many of those who have would benefit from seeing some of his mistakes as well.
Date published: 2018-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great view of the heart of science Back in '60s I studied engineering. I always found physics captivating and ended my formal college time completing a masters in it. At the time, and coming from an engineering background, I found the process and insight in the development of modern (relativistic and quantum) physics to be mind-expanding -- not just in terms of what one found there, but in understanding scientific curiosity and initiative. Dr. Hooper's course provided an opportunity to revisit and explore those same epiphanies and feelings at the completion of my career as I did back then at the beginning. Beyond that, Dr. Hooper does a superb job of explaining failure as a component of the adventure and scientific thought. That is of tremendous comfort to those of us with four or so decades in science and engineering. This course is worth five stars for any of several reasons: First would be Dr. Hooper's faultless and energetic presentation. Second would be a review and synopsis of the development of modern physics along with the rough spots, third is certainly the perspective Dr. Hooper provides on the adventure of science and the accomplishments of some of its greatest people, and certainly his perspective on success and failure. I loved this course -- couldn't put it down. I think the video added a lot to what might have been hard to follow and synthesize aurally. Seeing some of the diagrams and equations provided instant cognition in sync with the lecture that might be harder without them. To be fair, the opportunities for cognition are layered and a person without a physics or math background could happily dwell in the concepts and their development without the finer detail.. I liked this course!
Date published: 2018-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Explaining a difficult topic, well done I have always been interested in astrophysics, so when this course appeared at a very attractive price, I went for it. It was well worth it. Dan Hooper may not win any awards for charisma, but I found his lectures to be clear, fascinating, and easily understandable. Unlike many other lecturers I have seen, he had no obvious distracting personal hubris, bias or agenda that is so typical of many other lecturers (who evidently can't help themselves). He beautifully underscores how progress in science is a hit-and-miss effort, and all scientists - even great ones - sometimes get things wrong in the process of advancing our scientific knowledge.
Date published: 2018-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tantalizing for people who are new to the topics The lectures are well presented and not too esoteric. Perfect for the casual person or those interested in the general topics
Date published: 2018-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from While the lectures were well-prepared and presented, the constant shift among three camera angles was jarring and distracted from the content of each lecture.
Date published: 2018-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well done. Right level for the interested layman. xxxxxxxxxxxx
Date published: 2018-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The strange consequences of Einstein's theories Over the years I have purchased over 200 courses from the Great Courses. This course is in my top 10. It did an excellent job of explaining the counter-intuitive consequences of Einsteins theories and showed how even he had problems accepting some of those consequences. For the first time, I understand such concepts as the expanding universe. I was disappointed when the course was over.
Date published: 2018-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Einstein made accessible. This course provides a concise review of Einstein's great theories and what his contemporaries thought about the phenomena they explained. It's great to replay and review these ideas from now on. With courses like this Teaching Company is providing a great value at a price that is accessible to all as well!
Date published: 2018-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What the Great Courses got right. I live for new science and math releases, so I was pleased to see this topic as a new course. I’m going to rate the title based on it being an introductory level course. That’s not to say that I didn’t learn a few things watching the lectures. I just want to warn those with a strong science background that you will most likely already know the topics discussed. I do recommend this course for people who want to know more about topics like Special and General Relativity, Black Holes, and Light Quanta. It amazes me how little relativity is taught in high school almost 115 years after Einstein bested Newtonian physics. This course can serve as a good launching point for several other Great Courses titles that cover these topics in much greater depth. A favorite of mine is “Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity” by Professor Schumacher. As for this course, Professor Hooper is very good at keeping the material moving and explaining this sometimes difficult material in a way that leaves you with a solid high level understanding. If you are ready to begin a fascinating journey into Modern Physics, I recommend you start here.
Date published: 2018-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I learned about Einstein and Physics! This course provides a wonderful mix of autobiographical insight related to Einstein himself and the history of physics. In addition to learning about physics concepts, you learn about Einstein's perspective, a little about how and why he might have been led astray, as well as interesting material about other figures in the history of physics and even about what is currently being explored. I found the material in this short series to be very clearly communicated and it kept my attention even when I didn't fully understand the physics concepts themselves. : )
Date published: 2018-10-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What Einstein Got Wrong An informative course on the technical contributions of Albert Einstein beyond his "ground breaking" Theory of Relativity. Einstein's amazing contributions to understanding the universe are highlighted quite well by Dan Hooper. The audio lectures were well done and flowed in a natural sequence from my perspective. There are no mathematics in the lectures which I'm certain a lot of folks will like. I didn't expect any, although I would like to see a video course by "The Great Courses" that goes go into the mathematical details of relativity. The course title (What Einstein Got Wrong) is an "eye catcher" and peaked my interest, but the material presented does not denigrate Einstein's work.
Date published: 2018-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent introduction to controversies This is a fairly clear explanation of Einstein's ideas--not everything will be understood by the layman, but this is as good as it gets. There was a bit of New Age Deepak Chopra in his assertions. One was the common misstatement that because time passes differently if someone is traveling 99.9% of the speed of light vs someone remaining on earth, this is an example of traveling to the future. It's not the future of that individual or anyone on earth. And saying that from the standpoint of someone traveling the speed of light, all things would be simultaneous leads one to think there is no real difference between the beginning of the universe and it's end. As the great physicist Lee Smolin wrote in Time Reborn, "If the laws of nature are outside time, they're inexplicable."
Date published: 2018-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Amazing Einstein This is a terrific review of the revolutionary advances in physics during the first half of the twentieth century, starting off with a brief review of the basic concepts of physics which were overturned by Einstein. Professor Hooper's presentation style is extremely clear and energetic, explaining some concepts I thought were very difficult in a very understandable way. He is also very fair-minded in giving Einstein the credit he deserves and repeating multiple times that he was a giant of his time and clearly one of the most brilliant and innovative physicists to ever live, but also pointing out the mistakes he made throughout his career.
Date published: 2018-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EINSTEIN AWS MOSTLY RIGHT This DVD is an outstanding insight that goes beyond the usual television headline Einstein stories. It is a science and mildly math insight in to Einstein's thought processes and his historical significance. It is critical but not demeaning of his place in science. His mistakes were great in their own right as it showed his mental genius as to how to ask the right questions even if he obtained the wrong answers.
Date published: 2018-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What Einstein Got Wrong This course takes a serious look at the history of Physics and its principals. Knowing that even Einstein was occasionally wrong, not to mention other great physicists, makes me more inclined to share my thoughts with others. What better way is there to fine tune your ideas than to endure the criticism of others. The content was enlightening in that Professor Dan Hooper strips away the mystery of the basics and provides easily understood descriptions of key physics concepts. His presentation was professional and informative.
Date published: 2018-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent review of Einstein's contributions This is a superbly taught course which covers Einstein's contributions, key concepts of relativity and cosmology, and shows the interactive process of how science works, with insights followed by refinement of ideas by interchanges among scientists.
Date published: 2018-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent lecturer--very effective communicator. I've purchased more than 60 Great Courses. Every 5th or 6th is exceptional, and this is one of those.
Date published: 2018-06-04
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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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