Effective Field Theory MOOC from MIT

Faithful readers are well aware of the importance of effective field theory in modern physics. EFT provides, in a nutshell, the best way we have to think about the fundamental dynamics of the universe, from the physics underlying everyday life to structure formation in the universe.

And now you can learn about the real thing! MIT is one of the many colleges and universities that is doing a great job putting top-quality lecture courses online, such as the introduction to quantum mechanics I recently mentioned. (See the comments of that post for other goodies.) Now they’ve announced a course at a decidedly non-introductory level: a graduate course in effective field theory, taught by Caltech alumn Iain Stewart. This is the real enchilada, the same stuff a second-year grad student in particle theory at MIT would be struggling with. If you want to learn how to really think about naturalness, or a good way of organizing what we learn from experiments at the LHC, this would be a great place to start. (Assuming you already know the basics of quantum field theory.)

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Classes start Sept. 16. I would love to take it myself, but I have other things on my plate at the moment — anyone who does take it, chime in and let us know how it goes.

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15 Responses to Effective Field Theory MOOC from MIT

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  2. Hector says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. Hector says:

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  5. Hector says:

    …because we can never interact with them in any way.

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  6. Tom S says:

    Iain Stewart taught a course in effective field theory in spring 2013. You can view the videos of the lectures here .

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  7. Steady State Whale says:

    I think I will table my study of steady states, Markov chains , and the rock cycle while I review quantum field theory. Has the LHC discovered dark matter and super symmetry yet?

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  8. Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen says:

    @Hector

    “However, it doesn’t mean that nothing else cannot exist: namely some kind of god or supernatural being that, for example, caused the universe to be created from nothing.”

    If a god exists that cannot be interacted with in any way through our senses, you can’t have justification for believing such an entity exists.

    No, a warm feeling you get inside, or what you believe to be “personal revelation” will not justify such a belief either, because you will have no way to distinguish your “personal experience” from wishful thinking or other kinds of psychoemotional phenomena.

    “Nothing that can be shown by the scientific method to exist exists except atoms and empty space. Everything else is opinion, but is not the subject of science.”

    Nothing that science can’t show to exist, can be shown to exist. Personal revelations and other kinds of supposed “evidence” for the supernatural is indistinguishable from personal delusions or other kinds of phenomena perpetrated by our subconscious. Since we already know people are prone to all sorts of self-deception and halluscinations of this sort, even the person who thinks he’s receiving communications from a god would not be justified in having any strong conviction that a god was really communicating with him/her. In fact, because such experiences cannot be independently verified and cannot be distinguished from delusion/wishful thinking/subconscious activity, the person who receives them should him/herself be extra skeptical about the nature of such experiences.

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  9. Tony says:

    Everybody will die, than you will not know or will know. Life is very, very short, the days may seem slow at times, but the years fly by. Sorry Sean, but my bet is on the you will know, and you will.

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  10. James Gallagher says:

    for each lecture they need problem and answer sessions, preferably a very short problem list followed by a ~1 hour answer (tuition) video .

    Then they need to tell the people watching that if they can’t answer the problems after a few hours private work that they should try an easier course first. If there is no easier course with similar problem/solution videos then this program is poor.

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  11. Daverz says:

    In the intro Prof. Stewart suggests that you should already be familiar with QCD. I think that narrows down the audience for this course just a tad.

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  12. Mark VP says:

    Damn, I know quite some QM but no QCD. I just checked the three parts of the introduction to QM course that Sean mentions, it doesn’t go that far.

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  13. Farhad says:

    Thanks will take it. Wish they would put more graduate level lecture courses online. I have taken the MIT general relativity and cosmology courses but they only give you the syllabus and homework problems without much help.

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  14. Faraday's Apathy says:

    Maybe someday physicists will create headlines discussing set theory, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein statistics. I was interested in the physics and philosophy debate, however, I feel that both sides have a long way to go . In the meantime I will try my best to avoid violating the laws of thermodynamics .

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  15. Mitchell Porter says:

    Sean Carroll wrote

    “Classes start Sept. 16. I would love to take it myself”

    Wouldn’t you already know the material?

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