The Pioneering Physics TV Show, The Mechanical Universe, Is Now on YouTube: 52 Complete Episodes from Caltech




In December, Caltech announced that the critically acclaimed TV series, The Mechanical Universe… And Beyond, has been made available in its entirety on YouTube. Created at Caltech and aired on PBS from 1985-86, the 52-episode series offers an introduction to college-level physics, covering everything from the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus, to quantum theory. A university web page offers more details on the production:

The series was based on the Physics 1a and 1b courses developed by David Goodstein, the Frank J. Gilloon Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Emeritus.

Each episode opens and closes with Goodstein lecturing to his freshman physics class in 201 E. Bridge, providing philosophical, historical, and often humorous insight into the day’s topic. The show also contains hundreds of computer animation segments, created by JPL computer graphics engineer James F. Blinn, as the primary tool of instruction. Dynamic location footage and historical re-creations are also used to stress the fact that science is a human endeavor…

Although the series was designed as a college-level course, “thousands of high school teachers across the US came to depend on it for instructional and inspirational use,” Goodstein says. “The level of instruction in the US was, and remains, abysmally low, and these 52 programs filled a great void.”

You can stream all 52 episodes above. Or find them on Youtube and DailyMotion. They will also be added to our collection of Free Online Physics Courses, a subset of our collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Visit this Caltech website to get more information on the show.

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Related Content:

The Character of Physical Law’: Richard Feynman’s Legendary Course Presented at Cornell, 1964

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Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple: A Mini Course from Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Hans Bethe


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