Learning Physics Through Free Courses

There’s something compelling about physics. Almost every major open courseware collection features a well-crafted physics course, and these courses consistently rank high on iTunesU and YouTube Edu. Let’s give a quick overview of the favorites.

At Stanford, we’re putting together a six course sequence called Modern Physics: The Theoretical Minimum. Taught by Leonard Susskind, one of America’s leading physics minds, this course traces the development of modern physics, moving from Newton to Einstein to Black Holes. So far, we’ve made five of the six courses available online (get them here), which amounts to 100 hours of free classroom footage. Hard to beat. (And, in case you’re wondering, the sixth course is being taped right now, and it will be coming online during the months to come.)

Another program that has received a fair amount of attention is Walter Lewin’s series of courses at MIT. As The New York Times has noted, Lewin has long had a cult following at MIT, and now, thanks to his physics courses, he’s achieved a minor degree of fame on the internet. His lectures, delivered with panache, can be found here:

A third course to call your attention to is Richard Muller’s Physics for Future Presidents (Feed – MP3sYouTube).  The course comes out of UC Berkeley, where it’s an undergraduate favorite. (It’s also the basis of a recent book by the same name.) And the whole point here is to give citizens the scientific knowledge they need to understand critical issues facing our society.

Finally, another course worth reviewing is Fundamentals of Physics, which is taught by Ramamurti Shankar and it’s part of Yale’s Open Course initiative.

UPDATE: Since we originally created this collection, Bill Gates has posted Richard Feynman’s great lectures online. Learn more here.

All of these physics courses, and many more, can be found in our collection of Free Courses. You can also find the courses in our section called Physics: Free Courses.


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