UND Physics to Give Public Lecture on Relativity


Sean Lee

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Arts & Sciences


One-hundred years ago, a young physicist published a series of papers on a theory of the universe. Named relativity, Albert Einstein proposed that the entire mass of the universe can be summed up into a few simple rules.

Today, physicists at the University of North Dakota continue to study relativity, and its effects on the world. "The theory of relativity comes in two parts," UND physics professor William Schwalm said. "It's the theory of relative motion and the theory of gravity."

The physics department will host a series of lectures each Tuesday night in October to help non-physicists understand these claims. Each lecture is free and open to the public. "The logic is pretty accessible to the average person," Schwalm said. "It's just a matter of taking the time to learn it patiently."

Each lecture will last about one hour and will be followed by an Q&A session afterwards. Following that, a trailer lecture for those wanting to know the theories behind the lecture will be featured. "We'll explain the details for anyone who wants to stick around," said Schwalm. "It will allow us to go though the complexities of reasoning."

For many, physics is hard work, but relativity is still quite simple, said UND professor Tim Young. "It's still something that is accessible to everyone. We don't need high-powered mathematics in this case."

Staying current

Just a few weeks ago, scientist in Geneva "released results that seem to show objects going faster then the speed of night," said Schwalm. "The problem is, this goofs up the whole notion of cause and effect."

But be warned - "These are still candidate discoveries," Schwalm said. "Everyone needs to take a careful look because there are huge consequences if this turns out to be true."

In this light, each lecture will feature at least a handful of elements related to current events. "We're doing these in the buzz of what's going on in the world," said UND professor Tim Young. "We have a lot to say."

Each lecture will be held at 8:00 p.m Tuesday nights in October in Leonard Hall Room 100. The series is free and open to the public. "Anyone who could watch a TV show about physics should be able to learn something," Schwalm said. "We are trying to be entertaining. No homework will be given," he joked.