Top Rated Product

Product Reviews

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:
4.647 out of 5
4.6
 out of 
5
(17 Reviews) 16
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (17 reviews)
5 stars
13
4 stars
2
3 stars
2
2 stars
0
1 star
0
"16 of 17(94%)reviewers would recommend the course to a friend."
Customer Questions & Answers:
3 Questions | 12 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
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
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."
+19points
19out of 19found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
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
5 out of 5
Course Value
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."
+29points
29out of 29found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 3 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."
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 4 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"
0points
0out of 0found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 5 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:CT
Hard Topic Made Accessible
Date:June 1, 2014
"Once again, Dr. Schumacher has nailed it. He's incredibly clear, concise, articulate in a way that's inviting us to, in a sense, participate in his explanation and excitement of the topic.
He repeats and reviews previously presented concepts all throughout the course such that by the end the important concepts have been driven home.
Whereas he does derive (in a very simplistic way, of course) the equation of the "curvature" of spacetime, he does it in a completely logical and understandable way - he simplifies the concepts but takes it to the next level where important.
His lectures have spanned Quantum Mechanics, unusual Physics, and now Spacetime. I look forward to his next course no matter what it might be. He is clearly one of the finest lecturers in The Great Courses roster and this is one of the best courses."
+5points
5out of 5found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 6 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Houston, TX
Date:March 18, 2014
"Purchased this course to fill in the blanks left over from previous astronomy and cosmology courses purchased from the Teaching Company. The course and course content far exceeded my expectations. What Greenberg is to music, Schumaker is to physics and astronomy. Course material covered the history of gravity science from Galileo to Einstein and beyond. But beyond its historical perspective, gravitational concepts were presented which allowed an understanding of how the Universe works and some insight into the problems facing science today in marrying Newtonian gravity with Quantum theory. Complex issues were discussed clearly. Some familiarity with basic algebra is required to fully comprehend the complex issues presented. A first class course!"
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 7 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Piedmont, CA
Wow
Date:January 9, 2014
"I was already familiar with many of the concepts in this course but the presentation was so compelling that the sum was far more than the parts. The words that come to mind, insightful, provocative, thought provoking, profound are all insufficient. What a truly wonderful synthesis of so many related topics.
My only regret is that I have but 5 stars to give to this course!"
+6points
8out of 10found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 8 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Aptos, CA
An excellent survey
Date:December 4, 2013
"Prof. Schumacher has a knack for reaching the most interesting pinnacles of the subject with a minimum of background preliminaries. It's good that he didn't attempt this class under the frequent "no equations" constraint, but also good that he kept the equations to an unintimidating level. This class is for the student looking for the meaning behind the equations, and Prof. Schumacher focusses on that meaning. I'm content to look for the mathematical details elsewhere."
+20points
22out of 24found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 9 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Chicago
Far Out!
Date:November 14, 2013
"The professor is a great teacher. His presentation on Newtonian Physics and Relativity is outstanding, however the concepts beyond those were beyond my comprehension. I will be revisiting those chapters from time to time hoping to grasp curved space time. Be prepared to use the reverse button."
+9points
14out of 19found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 10 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Nashville, TN
Excellent course on general relativity
Date:October 23, 2013
"This course by Professor Schumacher is one of the best presentations of the topic of gravity and general relativity that I have ever encountered. It is the first treatment of the entire topic that actually explains in depth, and with mathematical details, exactly what gravity, space, spacetime, spacetime curvature and many other related facets of this subject are about. He presents the material in a very lively and engaging manner, on a technical level that enables one to understand what the gravitational phenomenon is actually all about. I commend him for this series of lectures, and would heartily recommend the course to everyone who is interested in the the physics of the dynamics of motion and time. He has finally brought me to an understanding of general relativity at a level that any person of a reasonably advanced technical skill level can enjoy. Rather than simply explain the subject in general terms, as almost all other non-university courses do, he has educated me on how gravity actually works, what Newton, Einstein and the many other scientists have done to increase our knowledge of the universe."
+35points
39out of 43found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
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
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:New Jersey
excellent presentation and so so content
Date:October 6, 2013
"professor Schumacher presentation is always superb, but i was disappointed on the historical events that the professor presented, for example it is well known that Newton has deduced his gravity law from Kepler's third law not that Newton has invented calculus to bring the gravity law about. this fallacy is in every college course, and this is not correct, actually there is a theory that all the laws of mechanics that newton has published were deduced from kepler's laws, and particularly the gravity law was manufactured from the Kepler's third law. please refer to "explanations :styles in explanation of science" book .
and the 4pi squared in the G constant that Newton proposed was never been explained by him or where he got it from, the answer is easy, it appeared naturally from the third law .
please google this fact and find out yourself... (aside from reviewing this course, Newton was a very mean person and also had problems on calculus invention with Leibnitz .
who invented it first? we never knew.
I hope this wouldn't sound that i look down at Newton, not at all, i'm no body to review one of the best minds of the scientific community ever lived. unfortunately this is the real history that we never learned in school).
but the course is enjoyable like all prof. Schumacher's courses...highly recommended.
"
-37points
17out of 71found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Customer Avatar
Ahmed
New Jersey
Top 1000 Contributor
correction
Posted October 7, 2013
i am sorry i made a typo error .
the 4pi squared in the K constant of kepler's third law not the G constant.
-3points
14out of 31found this comment helpful.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Review 12 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Content
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Professor Presentation
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Princeton, NJ
Very, Very Basic. A Good First Course in Gravity.
Date:October 3, 2013
"The title of this course seems to promise a cutting edge, in-depth look at some of the most exciting areas of modern astrophysics and cosmology. But, as has often been advisable with recent science and math offerings, beware of Great Courses bearing grandiose titles.
Instead, we are provided with a very basic introduction to the physics of gravity. The first half nicely follows the historical trail from Copernicus to Galileo to Brahe and Kepler, and finally to the extraordinary genius of Isaac Newton. Each storyline builds on those preceding, until we arrive at Newton's three laws of motion and his insight into the nature of gravity as a universal force.
The level of the presentation is so elementary, however, that if you remember anything of a high school physics course you are likely to learn little that you do not already know.
The second half deals with Einstein's brilliant re-imagining of gravity as curved spacetime, and covers his special and general theories of relativity, as well as some of their consequences such as black holes, the big bang, and the search for a theory of quantum gravity.
If you think this sounds like a lot to ask of twelve brief lectures which assume zero prior knowledge, you're right. The storyline here is not nearly so neat. More importantly, some of the most complex and counter-intuitive concepts in all of science are over-simplified to the point where, often, only the most general impression can be gained.
Now, I want to be clear - none of this is necessarily a criticism! It is only meant to let you know what to expect. If you know nothing about Newtonian mechanics or Einstein's relativity, this would indeed be a very good place to start learning. Just be aware of the limitations. If you do have a reasonable, even if elementary, background in these areas, you would do better to go directly to one of the Great Courses' many excellent more advanced physics courses - including Professor Schumacher's own outstanding course on quantum mechanics!
And Professor Schumacher is a fine professor. He is obviously highly knowledgeable, is enthusiastic about teaching his subject, has a smooth and pleasant delivery, and is able to express the ideas as well as they can be expressed, given the clear and significant constraint of aiming at an audience with no prior knowledge of the math or physics involved.
A word about the little bit of mathematics included: For each physics course there are reviewers who prefer more and those who prefer less math. Obviously this will depend a lot on your background and proclivities. However, the math here (and there is truly very little of it) is generally not helpful. It almost seems included just to let you see what the equations look like, as an aesthetic experience. The verbal explanations are much more informative, and if you don't find the equations helpful, you would do well to simply ignore them.
Again, to be clear - I find this topic to be incredibly fascinating and profoundly rewarding to study, both to enable an understanding of the extraordinary nature of our universe, and to provide a deep appreciation of the ability of human beings to understand it. The Great Courses, to its credit, offers a plethora of astrophysics and cosmology courses. Unless you plan to take all of them, it is worth choosing carefully."
+50points
56out of 62found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 13 for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Detroit
Date:September 29, 2013
"I have a Mechanical Engineering background and I am mathematically inclined - so it has a bit less math than I would have liked to see- but I found the course to be a very good one, however there are a couple of things I would like to point out: first, in explaining some of the concept there is some hand weaving and would have been explained better with equations, and the other thing is that I would loved to see more details in the summery. However, the subject is not an easy one and the professor did a great job. I highly recommend it."
+9points
16out of 23found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Customer Avatar
jkb1
Berrien Springs, MI
Posted September 30, 2013
What eng1 says about the lack of appropriate math is unfortunately a weakness of many if not most Great Courses Science and Math courses. The Teaching Company seems to be terrified of math (with a few exceptions, of course), with professors apologizing when they interject even the simplest equations into the discussion. This even happens in math courses!
I wish The Teaching Company would give its customers some credit for smarts and include at least an appropriate level of math, rather than avoiding it as if no one would understand. After all, why would you be watching lectures on black holes, tides, curved spacetime and gravity if you're math challenged?
My favorite example of this is the course on superstring theory, where the professor apologizes every time a bit of math is used. Come on! Superstring theory isn't even science (yet), it's pure math. A course on superstring theory without math is of questionable value, and belongs in a newspaper, not a college-level course.
The Teaching Company does us a disservice by presenting topics that rely heavily on math for any significant understanding of the topic, while nonetheless avoiding the math. Assuming we can understand complex concepts but can't take the simplest math doesn't really make sense.
That said, I'm a big Great Courses fan. Yes, I even liked the Superstring Theory course.
+55points
65out of 75found this comment helpful.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Review 14 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Nova Scotia, Canada
Defies Gravity
Date:September 23, 2013
"This is an outstanding course. I like the focus on the topic of gravity and its relation to astronomy and cosmology. What I like even more is its connection to other advanced topics like gravitational fields, space time, gravitomagnetism, relativity and quantum mechanics. I have to confess that I watched a few of these lectures more than once.
I personally do not mind the challenge of some complex topics. That is why I buy these lectures. Anyone with freshman physics should have no problem with the first half of the course (or high school for that matter). The second half of the course will engage you. Though this is a qualitative course he introduces some equations and graphs. I wish to see more of this in other physics courses. Equations and graphs were scattered throughout Professor Whittle’s course on Cosmology and people loved it. The ratings and comments said it all. I don’t care to be spoon-fed yet the animations and examples in this course were appropriate for this level of material. This course is an excellent way to learn these topics without the homework questions and exams.
Professor Schumacher’s presentation is engaging and interesting. He is indeed the right man for the job. His lectures are well-organized and the topic of gravity blended in well with the cutting-edge subjects. Overall, this course is enlightening and I look forward to any future course taught by him.
"
+24points
26out of 28found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 15 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Baltimore
More Edgy Physics
Date:September 13, 2013
"With this course on Gravity, Benjamin Schumacher adds another chapter into his on-going discussions of the most important elements but least understood topics in modern physics.
This course starts with the most elemental example of gravity, the fall of Newton's famous apple and proceeds from there. The course melds elements of gravity, space time, wave theory of gravity, and Einstein's theories of relativity. The examples and graphics are excellent, but I wish he had spent more time explaining the derivation of some of equations used in the course.
The course ends with a discussion of the last great issue in standard physics; the failure (so far) to reconcile quantum mechanics and gravity.
I viewed his earlier course of on Quantum Mechanics and that makes a nice book end to this discussion of gravity."
+12points
16out of 20found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Review 16 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
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:San Jose, CA
My favorite course to date!
Date:September 8, 2013
"This course is my favourite course to date, and I have purchased a lot of courses! The organization of material flows superbly from one lecture to the next, each concept building on the ones that came before.
While I already knew some of what is covered, I learned more. I really like the way this professor explains the content and the illustrations he uses. I find it hard to stop watching.
I've had difficulty understanding resonance before this, and that lecture is one of my favourites. A fascinating topic!
The historic content is brought in so that it's not boring but pulls together and builds on each historic scientist and what they had discovered.
I also like how the math is brought in and explained, without complicating the points made.
I highly recommend this course if you are interested in physics but haven't had a formal course on it, or if you found typical physics courses hard to follow.
This course is very well done from representation of the content, the explanations given, and the organization of the content. Well done!"
+26points
31out of 36found this review helpful.
Thank you! You have successfully submitted a comment for this review.
Ratings-Only Reviews for Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime: Understanding Gravity
Based on 1 ratings-only review
AVERAGE CUSTOMER RATINGOverall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Would recommend? Yes 1 out of 1
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5