Friday, August 13, 2010

Memories and The Mechanical Universe

As I get ready to teach honors mechanics to first-year undergrads, I have been scouting the web for various resources.  I ran across the complete series run of The Mechanical Universe (streaming for residents of the US and Canada), a great show that I remember watching on PBS occasionally when I was in high school.  It's based on first-year physics at Cal Tech, and each episode opens and closes with David Goodstein lecturing to a class in an auditorium.  It's very well done, and the computer animation was exceptionally good and informative, considering it was produced in the mid-1980s.  Thanks, Annenberg Foundation, for making this show available!  (Funny sequel of sorts:  I actually had the pleasure of meeting Prof. Goodstein in 2003, and for some irrational reason I was surprised that he didn't look exactly the same as he had in 1984....)

5 comments:

Anzel said...

I'm really disappointed he's not the one teaching States of Matter here at Caltech anymore (http://www.amazon.com/States-Matter-David-L-Goodstein/dp/048664927X).

Don Monroe said...

Will your course include the classical Hamiltonian and Langrangian stuff? My second-pass mechanics course at MIT had all that, but it all struck me as a rather tortured route to doing calculations, although it's probably philosophically profound. Without its ultimate connection to formulations of quantum mechanics, I doubt we would have studied it at all.

Doug Natelson said...

Hi Don - No, they'll get Lagrangians and Hamiltonians later. This is the usual Newton stuff: vectors, momentum, Newton's laws, kinetic and potential energy, rotational motion, angular momentum, orbits, special relativity.

Massimo said...

How many enrolled students do you have ? I am teaching mechanics for life science majors, 400 of them (yup, no TAs -- first time ever I am having fun with computerized homework)... can I call it "dishonor mechanics" ? ;-)

Jason Hafner said...

NO DOUG - why did you show me this!!?? Now I will be up all night!!