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Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity

<p>The force of gravity rules the universe, yet it is one of the least understood of all the forces of nature. The study of gravity helped spark the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century, and it continues to be at the forefront of physics today. Now, in <strong>Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity</strong>, plunge into this compelling subject in 24 intensively illustrated lectures, presented by Professor Benjamin Schumacher. This course covers the key ideas in gravity research over the past 400 years and gives you the background to understand today’s path-breaking theories in physics.</p>
Average Customer Rating:
4.765 out of 5
4.8
 out of 
5
(34 Reviews) 32
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Rating Snapshot (34 reviews)
5 stars
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"323494%of reviewers would recommend this series"
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4 Questions | 15 Answers
Customer Reviews for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Review 1 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Phoenix, AZ
Gravity - an eye opener
Date:February 20, 2014
" We tend to take gravity for granted ... the apple falls from the tree. How can this require 24 lectures? However, Professor Schumacher takes this basic premise, using an historical perspective, and takes the viewer on a journey of discovery into what gravity really is, and isn't. He is a great teacher, always engaging the audience, and able to put complex concepts into a framework that can be understood by the non-astrophysicist even though they are not intuitive. And, as indicated in the title, concepts including tides and black holes are integrated into this grand concept of gravity. Professor Schumacher does a wonderful job in laying out what turns out to be a very interesting, yet complex, topic. "
+44points
44out of 44found this review helpful.
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Review 2 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:San Diego, CA
Opens up a difficult subject to the layperson
Date:January 17, 2014
" This course offers a good historical, largely qualitative introduction to students interested in the study of gravity. The mathematics in the course are not so rigorous as to alienate viewers with a modest background in Algebra, but probably won't satisfy the student seeking a more quantitative exploration of gravity.
My background is in accounting and economics and I had no trouble following the equations. In a number of places, professor Schumacher obviously employs metaphor as substitute for mathematics, which, again, may or may not appeal to one, depending on his or her background.
As far as content goes, although much of the material on gravity and black holes is covered in earlier Great Courses, in my opinion, there is enough new material and fresh takes on the topics here to warrant the purchase.
One thing deserves special mention. The professor did a superb job of anticipating and addressing questions which occurred to me during the lectures. One such question involved how black holes are believed to have formed at the center of galaxies. As this particular lecture wound to a close, I felt certain that he would not answer the question, but, in the end, he did. This occurred several times during each lecture and I can't applaud professor Schumacher enough for it.
If one is new to the subject, perhaps professor Filippenko's excellent course on Astronomy and/or professor Carroll's equally excellent series, "Dark Matter, Dark Energy," might help to lay the groundwork for this course. "
+61points
61out of 61found this review helpful.
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Review 3 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Houston, TX
Interesting and entertaining
Date:April 24, 2016
" Most people buy a course from TGC because of their intellectual curiosity and interest. Yes - make it interesting. They do not buy a course like this to plan a rocket trajectory to Pluto. To do that, you bore yourself to tears for 4 years.
Doc's presentation skills are exemplary considering its technical and thought-provoking content.
Well done! Thank you. "
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
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Review 4 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Williamsburg, Virginia
Great Course
Date:January 30, 2016
" This is an excellent course. Given the far reaching influence of gravity in the development and configuration of the universe, from my perspective this course is a must for someone who is interested in attempting to come to grips with the mysteries of the universe. Professor Schumacher provides an excellent analysis of the influence and effects of gravity on bodies in our solar system and throughout the universe. Each lecture begins with what is to be presented, is presented in an engaging way and ends with a comment that leads with what is to come.
The forces of gravity are presented in a conceptual framework. Many lectures, however, include algebraic formula(s) that are helpful but all of them are not necessary for an understanding of the concepts. The conceptual presentations of gravity are well done, but this is not to say that a full understanding of the effects of gravity are easy to grasp.
For example, an understanding of spacetime and curved spacetime must include the concept of four dimensions, a concept difficult for many of us. Lectures include the influence of tides as they effect our earth and as they effect bodies within galaxies as
well as the gravitational influence between galaxies. Many lectures include analogies and examples as occur in the discussion of space time and zero gravity. Each lecture is interesting, informative and well done.
This is not an easy course, yet an understanding of gravitational forces is vital to an attempt to understand the universe. Considering the material, Schumaker has produced an excellent if not outstanding course.
For those who are new to the mysteries of the universe, the Understanding the Universe by Alex Flippenko provides an excellent introduction, Mark Whittle’s Cosmology, among others is also a good preceder to this course. Those who are interested in the universe should also be interested in How the Earth Works by Michael Wyesession. "
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 5 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Pacific Northwest, USA
Wonderful Combination of History & Science
Date:January 17, 2016
" The course is a wonderful combination of history and science. Professor Schumacher provides an explanation of gravity by describing the scientific breakthroughs of many scientists from Galileo to Stephen Hawkings. Not only does Professor Schumacher identify these scientific breakthroughs but also explains what they mean and how they found them. It amazing that these scientific breakthroughs were achieved hundreds of years before calculators, computer, electronic test equipment, etc.
Professor Schumacher also explains how the earlier breakthroughs have been used by later scientists and physicists. For example, Galileo’s principle of relativity was expanded, several hundred years later, by Albert Einstein in the Theory of Special Relativity.
Professor Schumacher also provided very interesting examples about how gravity affects the normal rules that we live by causing different results. For example, the friction of air resistance is one of the forces that will cause your car to slow down on the highway. The International Space Station, which orbits in a low earth orbit, also experiences friction the air particles in the thin atmosphere at that elevation. However, instead of the friction slowing down the International Space Station, the International Space Station actually speeds up.
Professor Schumacher does an excellent job of using a combination diagrams, simulations, and mechanical devices to demonstrate the principles that he is explaining. The mathematical formulas are shown as mechanisms to explain the relationship between entities such as when one entity decreases than the another entity has to increase.
I highly recommend this course to obtain a better understanding of gravity which is a force that is so important for all of our lives. "
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
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Review 6 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Ottawa, ON, Canada
Much more than I expected
Date:December 8, 2015
" I had watched one other course by Prof Schumacher (Quantum Mechanics) and greatly appreciated his style of teaching. He speaks at a comfortable pace in a completely natural manner that is just animated enough to be engaging. Physics topics are counterintuitive in many ways and it's difficult to remember all the bizarre details. Prof Schumacher seems to understand this because he reviews and repeats essential points throughout the course. He conveys his enthusiasm for the beauty of physics in every lecture.
As far as content is concerned this course covered much more than I expected. I didn't realize gravity was intertwined with so many aspects of physics and it's much more complicated than I imagined. One thing I greatly appreciated was the explanation of how the universe is moving to a high entropy state despite the appearance of planets, solar systems, and galaxies which seem to indicate movement to a low entropy state. I've wondered about this since taking Sean Carrol's course on time and didn't expect to find an explanation here. I'll have to watch the whole course again to make better sense of it all but I've already learned more than I expected. "
+1point
1out of 1found this review helpful.
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Review 7 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Texas
Excellent
Date:November 14, 2015
" I bought this in honor of the 100th anniversary of Einstein's greatest discovery, and have been completely satisfied. Professor Schumacher has an engaging and non pretentious style, is clearly a master of the subject, and neatly weaves together the history of the evaluation of gravity and its effects. I particularly enjoyed how he pays tribute to the discoverers since Gallileo and shows how Einstein's discovery is based on the efforts of geniuses from the past. Like many of the Great Courses professors, I constantly ask myself "where were these guys when I was in college?". "
+3points
3out of 3found this review helpful.
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Review 8 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Phoenix, AZ
Exceptional great course - Dr Schumacher is superb
Date:November 3, 2015
" This is the second physic course presented by Dr Schumacher that I have taken ("Impossible: Physics beyond the Edge" was the first#. He was great in the first but even better in this one. He makes this extremely complex subject understandable. I was taught that a good presenter should "tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you just told them". Dr Schumacher used this approach with great effect. In this course he reviews Newtonian physics and then goes over in detail the revolutionary changes introduced by Einstein's laws of general relativity. He then goes on to discuss a wide range of phenomena including curved spacetime, gravitational tides and black holes plus a brief excursion into other modern physics theories #string and m-theory#. I was truly impressed with the excellent organization and presentation of this Great Course. "
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
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Review 9 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Vienna, Austria
another brilliant physics course from TGC
Date:May 16, 2015
" i love how the TGC physics courses help you unlearn most of the nonsense you were fed at school - you end up with a picture of our cosmos you can only marvel about and the realization that we still have a looong way to go in our understanding. Professor Schumacher can explain complicated stuff extremely well, even better than Sean Carroll, who is another favourite from the TGC courses. I hope to see more courses by these brilliant teachers in the future. Keep up the good work! :) "
 
My Product Recommendations
 
+7points
7out of 7found this review helpful.
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Review 10 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Baltimore, Md.
Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Space Time
Date:March 9, 2015
" The Professor makes what is a very difficult subject quite understandable. The brief descriptions of the various individuals who were so important in the development of our knowledge of this subject was greatly appreciated.
His examples of how to under the complex mathematics was a definite boon. This course certainly helped me bring together the disparate pieces of information that i already knew about this subject.
"
+7points
7out of 7found this review helpful.
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Review 11 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Course Content
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Course Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Location:Lawrenceville, NJ
A physicts view of gravity
Date:February 3, 2015
" Professor Schumacher's lectures were word for word of what was in the guidebook that came with the course. One could just read the guidebook and not watch the disc. The only extra thing the disc provided was some pictures of the cosmos and diagrams of descriptive models in the guidebook. His lectures were filled with physics equations to back up his points. Those who just want a basic understanding of gravity and not accustomed to heavy math equations might become put off by so many equations and not finish the course. Without the time on the equations the course would be only 6 lectures long. He also seems to have a very extreme regard for Newton though Einstein and others have corrected some of his theories. His lecture on the quantum physics of gravity was very weak and could have been omitted from the course. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone who wants just a basic understanding of gravity, especially for one who isn't acquainted with mathematical equations. "
-9points
3out of 15found this review helpful.
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Review 12 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Arizona, USA
Concepts Clearly Explained
Date:January 31, 2015
" I was a physics major and can confirm that only the most basic general relativity was offered to undergraduates. There are two reasons for that. First, undergraduates don't yet have the mathematics to master general relativity. Even Einstein needed help with the math! Second, undergraduates need to cover lots of other areas of physics as well. (To ensure my education was not unusual, I confirmed this with a friend who agreed they had the same experience as a physics major at a different college. Ok, a sample space of two, but that's all I had time for.)
How, then, could Schumacher teach this course? Instead of spending a great many lectures on teaching us math, he instead concentrates on concepts. And I, for one, believe he did an excellent job with those concepts. I really enjoyed this course and have a much better understanding of gravity. His explanations are clear and the drawings, graphics, and other illustrations really helped.
Although I have a physics background, I think anyone could understand the concepts in this course. I have all of Schumacher's courses and can't wait for him to do more. "
+12points
12out of 12found this review helpful.
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Review 13 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Vero Beach FL
Excellent explanation of a difficult topic
Date:January 31, 2015
" It's difficult for a non-physicist to wrap the mind around the concept of space-time, but the professor does an excellent job of explaining gravity in a reasonably understandable way. Combined with some other courses, such as those on Time and Quantum Mechanics, the universe is becoming a little more clear. "
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 14 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:queens, ny
Difficult, but I would recommend to anyone
Date:January 8, 2015
" The concepts regarding gravity are very abstract and complex, but the professor uses analogies, concrete examples, and visual aids to make them more accessible. He starts with easily understood math and builds on that to what would otherwise be abstruse equations. He humanizes the subject by giving an historic and philosophical background. The course is well balanced in that he emphasizes both the theoretical and experimental aspects of the science. Moreover, his love of physics is infectious. Because of his enthusiasm and knowledge I would recommend this course to anyone. "
+5points
5out of 5found this review helpful.
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Review 15 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Queretaro, México
Great presentation
Date:January 2, 2015
" Es la mejor explicación respecto a la teoría de la relatividad que he oído. Excelente presentación y excelente conocimiento del tema. Por mucho el mejor video de los que he comprado a esta empresa. "
+4points
5out of 6found this review helpful.
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Review 16 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Arkansas
Bravo
Date:December 30, 2014
" If I could give Professor Schumacher 6 stars I would. Having read fairly widely in physics as a non-scientist before I bought and viewed this course, I brought some high expectations to it. Professor Schumacher hit the mark precisely with this course. It's a fascinating and exceedingly professional presentation. I'm convinced that if more young adults had science professors of this caliber then we'd have more scientists. Very well done, Professor. "
+6points
6out of 6found this review helpful.
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Review 17 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Florida
Date:December 3, 2014
" During lectures he reminds the viewer of the lecture numbers which give a full explanation of the principles being referenced in the current lecture. Like a hyperlink in a pdf. Very helpful. "
+2points
2out of 2found this review helpful.
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Review 18 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
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5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Date:October 16, 2014
This customer did not provide a text review.
-1point
0out of 1found this review helpful.
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Review 19 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Course Content
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Location:San Antonio, Texas
Many ambiguities and even errors
Date:August 10, 2014
" I could forgive minor errors such as "Galileo invented the telescope" and "Laplace was born an Italien" but the misleading graphics for the eotvos experiment and even the explanation of the tides reminded me of similar problems with another course I bought (quantum mechanics). It is not bad to have to go to Wikipedia to get the story straight but I am not accustomed to this from the Teaching Company. "
+16points
19out of 22found this review helpful.
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Comments (1)
Comments (1)
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Stormy
Ambiguities and Errors
Posted March 4, 2015
First, I have just begun the course so am not ready to review it. Further I have not checked the accuracy of the information in question. What I do question however, is the reliability of Wikipedia. At the high school where I teach it is locked on the school's network as a research source for our students due to its poor reliability history. It has its uses, but if and when I do look up any facts I need to check, it will not be on Wikipedia.
+1point
3out of 5found this comment helpful.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Review 20 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:New Jersey
One of the Best - A Home Run
Date:August 6, 2014
" Professor Schumacher has done a masterful job of giving all of us a thorough introduction to the many concepts presented in this course. There was just enough math to illustrate his lectures. Whenever he used a term that he wasn't sure it familiar to the audience, he carefully explained.
I especially liked his out from behind the lectern approach to teaching. He handled some complex topics with an aplomb only possible with both confidence in his knowledge and his teaching style.
Excellent! I recommend it.
Henry "
+5points
6out of 7found this review helpful.
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