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New Adventures in Spacetime

Eleanor Knox

We live in the moment. Or so it might seem. King’s College philosopher of physics Dr Eleanor Knox reveals how Einstein’s work has radical implications for past, present and future.

Instructor
  • Eleanor Knox Speaker Photo
    Eleanor Knox
    Philosopher of science and Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at KCL
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About the Course

With his first paper on special relativity, Albert Einstein demonstrated that our intuitions have no place in the study of spacetime. But even today we have not reached a consensus on the profound implications of relativity. Eternalism, a view in which past, present and future are equally real, has long been the orthodoxy amongst physicists, but this view is now being challenged at the cutting edge. In this course Dr Eleanor Knox builds up a framework in special relativity to ask: can we recover the present?

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • the two postulates of special relativity
  • the consequences of special relativity (time dilation and length contraction)
  • how Minkowski space and lightcones are used to represent Einstein’s spacetime
  • how the past, present and future are seen in the major perspectives on spacetime
  • McTaggart’s A and B series
  • how the block universe might be avoidable.

 

As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, suggested further readings to explore topics further, discussion boards to have your say and an end of course assessment set by Dr Eleanor Knox.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Eleanor Knox

    Philosopher of science Eleanor Knox is Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at Kings College London. Her work focuses on philosophy of space time physics, explanation and intertheoretic relations.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: Introducing Special Relativity
    How do space and time become spacetime? Explaining Einstein’s greatest achievement.
  • Part Two: About Time
    Does the past exist? Is the future fixed? Does time flow? Introducing the metaphysics of time.
  • Part Three: Dissolving the Present
    Knox presents a philosophy of spacetime: the past and future exist, but the present does not.