Two years ago, World Science U debuted on the net, promising to bring free science courses to anyone, from high schoolers to retirees. (We wrote about it here.) The courses would be taught by the top scientists in their fields, featuring lectures, animations, interactive exercises, feedback, and even virtual office hours. At the time, however, Brian Greene’s project to bring the latest in research on string theory, particle physics, dark energy, relativity and more featured only two courses.
Since then, World Science U has taken off. It now offers “Science Unplugged,” a series of short videos that offer answers to layperson questions about science; “Master Classes” which are short classes about various subjects (mostly in physics) that take a few hours to complete; and “University Courses” which take eight to ten weeks to complete and are designed for the more advanced learner. These latter two offerings offer certificates upon completion.
The current roster of lectures is impressive: MIT's Alan Guth teaches Inflationary Cosmology; U. Chicago's Michael Turner (who coined the term “dark energy”) presents the Dark Side of the Universe; Stanford's Andrei Linde takes you into the Multiverse; and Caltech's Maria Spiropulu probes Nature's Constituents, to name a few Master Classes. Meanwhile Brian Greene currently teaches two of the university courses: "Special Relativity: A Math-Based Introduction" and (highlighted above) "Space, Time and Einstein: A Conceptual Tour of Special Relativity."
All of the courses are absolutely free but the videos are only available if you register with World Science U.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.