General relativity: gravitation and curvature of space-time
In this context, how did Galileo’s discoveries guide Einstein to the theory of special relativity, and then to the theory of general relativity? Does the latter encompass the former? And in what cases are these theories applicable?
What if the most visible force in our everyday lives was not a force but a property of space-time?
These are all questions that the pre-university week participants will try to answer during one week. From Newton’s first law of motion to special relativity, and then from Newton’s second law of motion to general relativity, the high school students will follow the footsteps that led to discoveries at the basis of today’s work on the origin of the Universe, gravitational waves, and black holes.
Conferences from – among others – Dr Michael Esfeld, expert in philosophy of science, as well as visits of EPFL labs complete the program of this pre-university week.
In order to explain the conceptual trajectory that will lead us from Galileo-Newton space-time to the space-time of special relativity and then general relativity, the pre-university week will very much rely on mathematics, which are at the very heart of our modern understanding of physics. No prerequisites are required beyond a 1st year high school background, except for the desire to follow the reasoning that laid the foundations for modern physics in its original and universal language. Furthermore, the participants will have the opportunity to choose a group research project among several topics (some involving mathematics and others not).
- Where and when
- July 4-8, 2022 at EPFL (Lausanne) – The pre-university weeks will of course take place in strict compliance with the sanitary measures in force at that time
- High school students who have passed their 1st year
- Teaching staff
- Dr Nicolas Michel, EPFL graduate in physics and mathematics and high school teacher, accompanied by several EPFL students
- CHF 50.- (excluding VAT). Lunches are included but the participants have to cover their housing and living expenses
- Online registration is closed
- Please contact the Education Outreach Department for any question: [email protected]
No specific prerequisites are necessary to attend this pre-university week beyond a keen interest in astrophysics, cosmology and epistemology. Therefore, the reading of one of the three books mentioned below could be interesting in the context of this pre-university week:
- Hawking, Stephen. Une brève histoire du temps. Flammarion, 2018
- Schutz, Bernard. Gravity from the Ground Up: An Introductory Guide to Gravity and General Relativity. Cambridge University Press, 2003
- Weinberg, Steven. Les Trois Premières Minutes de l’univers. Nouvelle éd. Paris: Seuil, 1988
This pre-university week is offered jointly by EPFL’s Education Outreach Department and the Swiss Study Foundation.