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Supersymmetry, Grand Unification, and String Theory

By Stanford Continuing Studies Program

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Revolutionary new concepts about elementary particles, space and time, and the structure of matter began to emerge in the mid-1970s. Theory got far ahead of experiment with radical new ideas, but the concepts have never been experimentally tested. Now all that is about to change. The LHC — the Large Hadron Collider — has finally been built and is about to confront theory with experiment. The final quarter of our ongoing physics series with Leonard Susskind is devoted to supersymmetry, grand unification, and string theory. This course was originally presented in Stanford's Continuing Studies program.

Customer Reviews

Beautifully presented!

Professor Susskind is a gifted and entertaining lecturer! He has a unique and informal style. After a few minutes, If found that I really enjoyed watching him. Although the lectures tend to be long, I never tired of Prof. Susskind. Overall, it is clear that he is a master of his subject. His presentation, while informal, should serve as a model for how to present highly technical physics material to a lay audience.

Although the subject matter is inherently mathematical, Prof. Susskind was able to present the material at an undergraduate level by using a semi-mathematical dimensional analysis approach. The course does not aim to be, nor is it, a thorough introduction for researchers. Nevertheless, as a researcher working in a related field (astrophysics including dark matter and dark energy), I found the presentation both engaging and sufficiently technical to provide a reasonable jumping off point for more thorough follow-up reading in the professional literature. I would say that the level is about right for somebody who understands Brian Green's books ("The Elegant Universe, etc.) and who is looking to understand more of the underlying mathematics. Although Prof. Susskind avoids the more serious mathematics that are found in advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses, a viewer who is not mathematically inclined would probably find these lectures a hard slog. The questions from the students provide some clues as to the audience the lectures were presented to. For example, I recall one instance in which a student correctly noted that quantum systems are described by state vectors in a Hilbert space. Having taught physics at a major university, this is not the kind of comment that one would get from a general undergraduate audience.

The ideal viewer has a technical degree and follows developments in science, even if he/she is a bit rusty on the details. If this viewer watches and understands these lectures, he/she will emerge with a real understanding of what are some of the most important questions in physics and astrophysics today. They will understand why the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is so important, and why the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider in 1993 was such a great loss. I could easily see these lectures inspiring young up-and-coming students, much like Feynman's famous "Lectures in Physics" did for my generation.

Overall, this is a great course and I applaud Stanford and Apple for making such high quality content available!


Professor Leonard Susskind does a wonderful job of walking the audience through some very abstract concepts.

His 2nd lecture is particularly insightful.

Look forward to hearing from the folks at LHC if any of this is verifiable (yet.)