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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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.