The Theoretical Minimum courses include a core sequence of six courses, plus a set of supplemental courses that teach additional related material.  The core sequence is currently being repeated with Statistical Mechanics being taught during Spring quarter, 2013.


Course Catalogue

These courses from the core sequence have been repeated recently. The older versions are archived here.

  1. Classical Mechanics

    Fall, 2007
    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 with a discussion of the allowable... more
  2. Quantum Mechanics

    Winter, 2008
    Quantum theory governs the universe at its most basic level. In the first half of the 20th century physics was turned on its head by the radical discoveries of Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schroedinger. An entire new logical and mathematical foundation—... more
  3. Special Relativity and Electrodynamics

    Spring, 2008
    In 1905, while only twenty-six years old, Albert Einstein published "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" and effectively extended classical laws of relativity to all laws of physics, even electrodynamics. In this course, we will take a close look at the special theory of relativity and also at... more
  4. General Relativity

    Fall, 2008
    General relativity, or the general theory of relativity, is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916 and the current description of gravitation in modern physics. General relativity generalises special relativity and Newton's law of universal gravitation, providing a... more
  5. Cosmology

    Winter, 2009
    This course of the Theoretical Minimum series will concentrate on cosmology, the science of the origin and development of the universe.  Along the way, students will take a close look at the Big Bang, the geometry of space-time, inflationary cosmology, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, dark... more
  6. Statistical Mechanics

    Spring, 2009
    Statistical mechanics is a branch of physics that applies probability theory to the study of the thermodynamic behavior of systems composed of a large number of particles. Statistical mechanics provides a framework for relating the microscopic properties of individual atoms and molecules to the... more