Our exploration of the theoretical underpinnings
of modern physics begins with classical mechanics,
the mathematical physics worked out by Isaac Newton
(1642–1727) and later by Joseph Lagrange (1736–1813)
and William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865). We will
start by taking a close look at Newtonian mechanics
and the integral concepts of force, momentum, and
gravity. Later, when we turn our attention to Lagrangian
and Hamiltonian mechanics, we will delve into potential
and kinetic energy, the principle of least action, and
This course marks the beginning of a six-quarter
sequence of courses that will explore the essential
theoretical foundations of modern physics.
The topics covered will include classical mechanics,
quantum mechanics, the general and special theories
of relativity, electromagnetism, cosmology, and
black holes. While these courses build upon one
another, each course can be taken independently
as well. Both individually and collectively they
will let students attain the “theoretical minimum”
for thinking intelligently about modern physics.
Sponsored by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.
Originally presented by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.
Professor Susskind’s Book, “The Theoretical Minimum” now available: