You updated your password.

Reset Password

Enter the email address you used to create your account. We will email you instructions on how to reset your password.

Forgot Your Email Address? Contact Us

Reset Your Password


Einstein’s Legacy: Modern Physics All around You

Reveal the extraordinary physics in ordinary life.
Einstein’s Legacy: Modern Physics All around You is rated 3.7 out of 5 by 9.
  • y_2022, m_5, d_22, h_21
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.27
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_1, tr_8
  • loc_en_CA, sid_10200, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 6.31ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthwhile As a retired engineer who dealt with physical and chemical processes at a mathematical level, I found Professor Orzel’s lectures to be spot-on. It was only the last lecture, #12 (The Future of Cryptography is Entanglement), that gave me a mild headache. That is not a criticism of the lecture or the lecturer; quantum entanglement is a very difficult, intensely counterintuitive subject to grasp. As Orzel tells us, even Einstein thought it nonsense. Another plus for this course is the historical context provided with the descriptions of key experiments, observations and identifications of the many researchers who built the edifice of quantum mechanics. That said, one requires instruction in physics and chemistry at the undergraduate level to follow the material presented. HWF, Mesa AZ
Date published: 2022-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great historical overview. I watched half of the course, and I am pretty happy with what I have seen so far. The professor explains the difficult concept with clarity and precision you will not often find in the popular lectures courses. And My 11-year-old son watches it with me and does not have any difficulties following it.
Date published: 2022-04-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The Course Description is Misleading I am someone who has purchased many dozens of courses over the last twenty years. This is the first one I ever returned. I have studied many texts and viewed a dozen of the Great Courses on physics including gravity and relativity, quantum mechanics, and string theory. From the description I was looking forward to seeing illustrations of the theory in practice. The course description refers to "12 fascinating half-hour lectures designed for non-scientists," I thought that this would be a perfect course to view with my wife who reads about science and has an advanced math degree but hasn't studied relativity or quantum mechanics. The first lecture on toasters left us both baffled. First, it was a more technical lecture on Planck's work than any other lecture on the subject in other Great Courses. Even I had to listen to it twice to understand it all. The only relationship of the lecture to toasters is that they glow red when hot. Second, half the time the professor, who is clearly very knowledgeable, is shown looking upward, apparently, to an audience in a balcony. It somewhere. It was very distracting and makes one wonder whether anyone at Great Courses viewed this DVD before putting it on sale. Clearly, I should have listened to a free lecture before purchasing the product, but I have been such an enthusiastic listener for over twenty years, I bought based on the course description. Being a new course, there were no prior reviews.
Date published: 2022-04-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very basic for closet physicists If you have a solid understanding of classical and quantum physics and have bought any of the other great courses on physics, this course is not for you. In addition, if you don’t have a fundamental understanding of classical and quantum physics, this course is not for you either. This course falls between that gap but the problem is there are better great courses available to fill in this informational gap than this one. The instructor does not hold your attention well and rarely even looks at you; however I’m sure he was told not to for some reason. There’s really no reason this course should have been made as there are several other much better great courses that cover this information and in much better detail and depth; and with better instructors.
Date published: 2022-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Connecting of the DOTS This course creates reality out of Relativity! I'll never think of a toaster in the same way.
Date published: 2022-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Didn't get much out of it I listened to all 12 lectures. The prof covers a lot of material and he speaks rather fast. Thus, I didn't get much out of this course. I did get a little bit out of it but it was not all that much.
Date published: 2022-04-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for lay persons This is not a lay person's guide to physics. Using a toaster as an analogy was excellent. However, after the first few minutes the course jumps into wave lengths, black boxes, and even the formula to calculate how quickly light will be absorbed in same box. This is not a course that I will continue.
Date published: 2022-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overview of a difficult subjest I've enjoyed Professor Orzel's books in the past, and was excited to see this course arrive. He has a wonderful way of making difficult subjects relatable, and I found this course both informative and entertaining. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2022-03-30
  • y_2022, m_5, d_22, h_21
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.27
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_1, tr_8
  • loc_en_CA, sid_10200, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 4.28ms


Taught by Professor Chad Orzel of Union College, this course takes an unusual approach to teaching quantum mechanics and relativity. Designed for non-scientists, the 12 lectures focus on how quantum theory and relativity explain the workings of everyday objects—from toaster to computer chips to smoke alarms, and much more. Using no math, the explanations are detailed and often delightful.


Chad Orzel

Quantum physics affects everything that we do. I hope knowing this inspires you to look at the world anew and find a bit of wonder in the most mundane activities.


Union College

Chad Orzel is an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Union College in Schenectady, NY. He earned a BS in Physics from Williams College and a PhD in Chemical Physics from the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to teaching and conducting research, he is the author of several books explaining physics to nonscientists. His first book, How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog, has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Subsequent books include How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog; Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist; Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects; and A Brief History of Timekeeping: The Science of Marking Time, from Stonehenge to Atomic Clocks. He also maintains a blog about science (among other topics) at, contributes to Forbes online, and writes on Substack. In 2021, he was named a fellow of the American Physical Society.

By This Professor

Einstein’s Legacy: Modern Physics All around You
Einstein’s Legacy: Modern Physics All around You


Toasters, Planck, and Modern Physics

01: Toasters, Planck, and Modern Physics

Any time you see a heating element glow as you toast a slice of bread, you are looking at the phenomenon that gave birth to quantum physics. Begin your study of the relevance of modern physics to everyday life by probing Max Planck’s formulation of the quantum hypothesis at the turn of the 20th century. Planck’s ideas explain why your toaster doesn’t kill you with high-energy radiation!

25 min
Cameras and Einstein’s Photoelectric Effect

02: Cameras and Einstein’s Photoelectric Effect

Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics, not for his theory of relativity, but for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. Learn how his startling proposal that light is composed of a stream of particles (later called photons) overthrew the view that light is exclusively a wave. Discover that photons and the photoelectric effect are behind the operation of digital cameras.

24 min
Modern Clocks and the Bohr Atom

03: Modern Clocks and the Bohr Atom

In 1913, Niels Bohr proposed a model of the atom that allowed physicists to predict atomic properties that had previously been completely mysterious. As a bonus, Bohr’s model provides the conceptual foundation for timekeeping using atomic clocks, where the “ticking” is the oscillation of light. Study the workings of these super-accurate devices that are good to a second in a hundred million years.

24 min
GPS and Einstein’s Relativity

04: GPS and Einstein’s Relativity

Delve into the principle of relativity, first proposed by Galileo Galilei and later extended by Einstein to account for inconsistencies in the interpretation of electromagnetic phenomena. See how Einstein’s special theory of relativity was the result, with astonishing consequences for our understanding of time and space. The Global Positioning System (GPS) would be hopelessly inaccurate without it.

22 min
Elevators Demonstrate General Relativity

05: Elevators Demonstrate General Relativity

Continue deeper into relativity by exploring Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which treats gravity as indistinguishable from a simple accelerating reference frame—for example, an elevator that is speeding up or slowing down. From this insight, Einstein developed a theory with truly staggering implications, such as that space and time alter in the presence of massive objects.

23 min
Lasers, the Internet, and Photon Emission

06: Lasers, the Internet, and Photon Emission

The internet relies on Einstein’s theory of stimulated emission of radiation, along with the later work of physicists who turned the idea into a practical invention, namely the laser. Follow a single photon in a laser as it multiplies, forming a tight, concentrated beam. Then study the role of fiber optic cables in guiding laser digital signals throughout our global telecommunications network.

24 min
A Sense of Smell Relies on Pauli Exclusion

07: A Sense of Smell Relies on Pauli Exclusion

Starting with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, zero in on the nose’s chemical receptors that mediate smell. Consider the quantum effects involved—notably Wolfgang Pauli’s theory of electron spin and his exclusion principle, which together dictate how electrons fill energy states within the atom. The grouping of electrons in the outermost shell determines essentially all of chemistry.

24 min
Why Everyday Objects Don’t Implode

08: Why Everyday Objects Don’t Implode

Given the overwhelming amount of empty space in atoms, what accounts for the stability of solid objects? Shouldn’t they implode at the slightest touch? Chart the search by Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, and others for an explanation. Discover that the physics that lets you set down a cup safely also governs the most exotic matter in the universe—the material making up a neutron star.

24 min
Computers and Schrödinger’s Cat

09: Computers and Schrödinger’s Cat

Learn the link between Schrödinger’s famous cat paradox and the microelectronics revolution. In the paradox, a cat is simultaneously both dead and alive due to the indeterminate nature of an atomic process on which the feline’s fate depends. See how the physics of superposition—as this state is known—is essential to the behavior of everyday objects and plays a crucial role in computer circuits.

25 min
Magnets Need the Quantum World

10: Magnets Need the Quantum World

Einstein was understandably entranced by magnets since the behavior of permanent magnets is so hard to explain. Dive into the quantum world to discover why most atoms are non-magnetic, yet some—like iron—are prone to holding a long-lasting magnetic charge. Find that the Pauli exclusion principle once again is a key element. Also probe the surprising sophistication of refrigerator magnets.

23 min
Smoke Detectors and Quantum Tunneling

11: Smoke Detectors and Quantum Tunneling

A popular type of smoke detector relies on a tiny amount of radioactive material that undergoes alpha decay, allowing the identification of minute smoke particles in the air. Delve into the marvel of quantum tunneling which physicist George Gamow used to explain the otherwise baffling process of alpha decay. Also learn that Heisenberg’s famous uncertainty principle is a related concept.

26 min
The Future of Cryptography Is Entanglement

12: The Future of Cryptography Is Entanglement

Quantum physics provides a way to make codes that are completely uncrackable, thanks to a strange property first identified in one of Einstein’s failed attempts to overthrow the theory. Close the course by investigating the most bizarre quantum phenomenon of all: entanglement. Einstein called it “spooky action-at-a-distance,” yet it may one day safeguard your most private data from eavesdroppers.

28 min