Video Physics Resources

I’ve mentioned both of these items before, but I figured I should bring them up explicitly. (A nasty stretch of PHP coding lies in my near future, and the need to procrastinate is becoming almost a physical pain.) First is Caltech’s series The Mechanical Universe (1985), which I first saw on PBS many years ago and is now available online for free. If you want a year’s worth of freshman physics, you can now get it in moving-picture form. Early episodes also cover some necessary math: derivatives, integrals and vectors. The videos require a free login before use.

Second in the video department is Barton Zwiebach’s String Theory for Pedestrians (2007). The content should be comprehensible to advanced undergrads. Summary:

In this 3-lecture series I will discuss the basics of string theory, some physical applications, and the outlook for the future. I will begin with the main concepts of the classical theory and the application to the study of cosmic superstrings. Then I will turn to the quantum theory and discuss applications to the investigation of hadronic spectra and the recently discovered quark-gluon plasma. I will conclude with a sketch of string models of particle physics and showing some avenues that may lead to a complete formulation of string theory.

Unfortunately, the CERN people haven’t yet figured out this neat “embedding video” thing. RealMedia is so, like, 2001 (and sucks besides). I was able to use Real Alternative to play the Zwiebach videos on Windows and MPlayer to watch them on Linux.

No, no, don’t continue reading “Video Physics Resources”!


OK, if you’ve persevered this far, I might as well tell you that The Mechanical Universe has manifested itself at Google Video. Here’s “Kepler’s Three Laws,” which should go at least partway to explaining my example about planetary motion:Trivia: the footage of Johannes Kepler was actually reused from Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980).

And here’s a fun one on “Navigating in Space.”Warning: both of the aforelinked videos are about an order of magnitude longer than your average viral specimen! Significantly shorter (1:26) is Feynman’s “Ode on a Flower.”

Now, about that PHP. . . .