70,000 registered students for the online course Gravity!

Already 70 000 registered students! A great success for the first English-speaking online course (MOOC) of Paris Diderot University on the mysteries of gravity: Big Bang, black holes, expansion of the universe …

Classes start on Monday 26 but learners can join until December 6, 2015 on the social learning platform FutureLearn,  the first UK-based provider of massive, open online courses.

Simon Nelson, Chief Executive of FutureLearn said: “I am delighted that Paris Diderot’s first course on FutureLearn has captivated such a large international audience. With nearly 70,000 learners, Gravity! is FutureLearn’s biggest science course to date. It’s my hope that we can continue enable more  French institutions to reach our global community of learners.”

Gravity! is for all those curious about the mysteries of the Universe and invites them to understand, without any prerequisite in physics, the foundations of Einstein’s theory that makes gravity “the engine of the Universe”

The course is free and registration is open to everyone.


See French press release about the success of Mooc Gravity!

Registration to the course Gravity! on Futurelearn begins!

Register to the course Gravity on Futurelearn!


About the course

What is gravity? This fundamental force is the common theme between concepts as intriguing as the Big Bang, black holes, dark energy, space-time, gravitational waves and the expansion of the Universe.If these concepts pique your interest, this free online course is for you. It doesn’t require any background in physics or mathematics, just a simple curiosity about the Universe and our place in it.

Mark the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity

The theory of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, was published exactly 100 years ago. This course presents in a simple manner the main ideas behind this theory, before explaining why “gravity is the engine of the Universe.”

The basic notions are then introduced to understand why the Universe is in expansion. We’ll find out:

• why the further you look, the more distant in the past you look;
• how we can tell what happened just after the Big Bang;
• what are the dark components of the Universe;
• why are we so impatiently expecting the discovery of gravitational waves;
• and what happens when you cross the horizon of a black hole.

Learn with experts including a Nobel Prize-winning physicist

Over six weeks, you’ll learn with Pierre Binétruy, the Director of the Paris Centre for Cosmological Physics at Paris Diderot University, as well as the cosmologist, George Smoot, who will explain the discovery that earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2006.

The success certificates for the French version of the MOOC Gravité! are now being delivered. Congratulations to all!

The final numbers are now available from the FUN platform: 5675 registered learners, and 1291 certificates of success delivered, that is 23%. If one compares with those who completed the first week (2364), the success rate raises to 55%. An amazing number when one realizes that, in a typical MOOC, it is expected that only 10% learners get to the end. Congratulations to all for their participation!

See the page of the french MOOC Gravité!

ESA invites the international press for a last glimpse at the LISAPathfinder satellite before its voyage to Kourou

Slated for launch by Vega in November, ESA’s gravitational-wave detection technology demonstrator is ready to begin launch preparations in September at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Members of the media are invited to join ESA and Airbus Defence and Space at IABG’s space test centre in Ottobrunn, near Munich, Germany, to get a final glimpse of LISA Pathfinder before it departs to the launch site.

LISA Pathfinder will help to open up a completely new observational window into the gravitational Universe, proving new technologies needed to measure gravitational waves in space. Predicted by Albert Einstein, these waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime and are produced by massive celestial bodies. Understanding their signature will tell scientists a lot about black holes, compact double stars and other exotic objects.

Members of the media are invited to join ESA’s, Airbus DS and relevant LISA Pathfinder scientists and partners on Tuesday, 1 September from 11:00 CEST, at the IABG space test centre in Ottobrunn near Munich, Germany.

To suscribe and know more, see this page : http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Call_for_Media_LISA_Pathfinder_leaving_for_launch_site


ESA press release: LISAPathfinder prepares for final exams

The summer is coming and that means students across Europe are sitting their final tests. ESA’s LISAPathfinder, a technology demonstrator that will pave the way for space-based gravitational wave observaotires, is no different. It is currently in the test centre at IABG, Ottobrunn, Germany. …

Read the ESA Press release

 The LISA Pathfinder science module pictured in a cleanroom at IABG, Ottobrunn, Germany, in June 2015. One of two (gold coloured) colloidal micro-Newton thrusters, part of the NASA provided Space Technology 7 mission, can be seen on the side of the spacecraft.

The LISA Pathfinder science module pictured in a cleanroom at IABG, Ottobrunn, Germany, in June 2015. One of two (gold coloured) colloidal micro-Newton thrusters, part of the NASA provided Space Technology 7 mission, can be seen on the side of the spacecraft. © ESA – P. McNamara


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