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The restless Universe introduces you to major achievements and figures in the history of physics, from Copernicus to Einstein and beyond. The route from classical to quantum physics will be laid out for you in this free course without recourse to challenging mathematics but with the fundamental features of theories and discoveries described in sufficient detail to whet your appetite for further physics study.
By the end of this free course you should be able to:
- explain the meaning of all the emboldened terms introduced in this unit;
- explain what is meant by a physical world-view and describe some of the major world-views that have emerged during the evolution of physics;
- describe some of the major concepts of physics, give brief biographical sketches of some of the major contributors to the development of physics and name some of the major events that have helped to shape the subject;
- comment on some of the philosophical issues that are raised by the study of physics.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Physics and the physical world
- 2 World-views
- 2.1 The lawful Universe
- 2.2 The clockwork Universe
- 2.3 The irreversible Universe
- 2.4 The intangible Universe
- 2.5 The uncertain Universe
- 2.6 Closing items
- 3 Appendix: Some highlights of physics
- 4 Suggestions for further reading
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
The restless Universe
This unit offers a fascinating overview of the ‘big ideas’ that have shaped physics from the time of Kepler to the present day. Using little mathematics, the unit surveys fundamental features of key physical theories and provides the essential context for the further study of physics.
This free course is an adapted extract relevant to The Open University course S207 The physical world, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 17th May 2011
Last updated on: Wednesday, 10th December 2014
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
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