This is an archived course. A more recent version may be available at

Archived Versions

Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century

As taught in: Spring 2006

Collage of Einstein, Oppenheimer, Lawrence, Seaborg, and Feynman.

Collage of Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, Glen Seaborg, and Richard Feynman. (Photos clockwise from top right, courtesy of the Library of Congress, the LBNL Image Library, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.)


Prof. David Kaiser

MIT Course Number:

STS.042J / 8.225J



Course Description

This class explores the changing roles of physics and physicists during the 20th century. Topics range from relativity theory and quantum mechanics to high-energy physics and cosmology. The course also examines the development of modern physics within shifting institutional, cultural, and political contexts, such as physics in Imperial Britain, Nazi Germany, U.S. efforts during World War II, and physicists' roles during the Cold War.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.