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

The Famous Feyn­man Lec­tures on Physics: The New Online Edi­tion (in HTML5)

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

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.