Great Ideas of Classical Physics

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Course So Far ...that I've listened to anyways. Top notch instructor and very interesting material. It probably helps that I'm a techno-geek.
Date published: 2012-12-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Course is at high-school level The course is aimed at high-school students or adults with math phobia. This makes it unsuited as a college-level course. The lack of mathematics makes the course much more long-winded than it needs to be. My guess is that, by introducing a small amount of math, the course size could be cut in half and the course made twice as interesting.
Date published: 2012-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Joy To Listen To I purchased this course back in 2008 and have listened to it many times over the years to refresh. My work does not normally require me to think in "physical" terms, however, I find that each time I listen to the lectures, I gain additional understanding with the passage of time and it encourages my mind to re-think about the ways the world works. The speaker is fun and easy to listen to--he is enthusiastic and uses relevant examples that are simple to understand.
Date published: 2012-06-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not up to the usual standard OK ...I'm coming back to physics after having studied it at school too many years ago but I'm sure it was more exciting than the way Professor Pollock presents it here. Unfortunately for me it comes across as pretty dull. Admittedly the background to the historical thinkers was enlightening but the thanks. On reflection I think I must put this down alot to the way the Professor presents his subject. Thankfully this wasn't my first course purchased or I may have not bothered at all. Looking at other reviewers' comments I appear to be in a minority but unless you have some physics background I would suggest trying other science courses in preference to this one.
Date published: 2012-05-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Presentation is distractingly poor. My background is in physics and engineering and I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my teaching skills. I thus like listening to other teachers explaining the concepts. I usually get at least a few new ideas to add to my toolbox. I didn't get this course to learn any physics, but to learn how to teach better. I've only listened to the audio version of this course. The biggest problem I have with this course is that the presentation is distractingly poor. The language used is that of a poorly educated teenager. It is so bad that it overshadows the content. I've kept gritting my teeth half the time, so bad it was. Not only is Prof. Pollock's command of the spoken language quite poor, but he often strays from his, correctly self-imposed, claimed attention to detail. It's quite often that detracting mistakes sneak in -- as if he never listened to the recording after it was taken. It's this kind of sloppiness that drove Feynman insane in his work on reviewing the school textbooks for the California Board of Education. I think I had to endure a lot of displeasure in listening to this course to pick out a few, buried, gems of teaching. They are there, but it's a toil to get to them.
Date published: 2012-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great intro to Physics... This is a wonderful course that introduces pre-1900 Physics to anyone interested in learning Physics. Easily accessible and understandable to high school or college students who have not yet taken a Physics class. I wish I could have seen this course when I was in High School, it would have made quite a difference in my life. Professor Pollock is a fine speaker who manages to compress a great deal of material into only 24 half-hour lectures. He lectures with energy and enthusiasm. Some other reviews have mentioned that there are few graphics, or demonstrations done in the course. But perhaps they missed that there is an entire web site (mentioned on page 2 of each of the Course Guidebooks) that is filled with perhaps 100 Physics-related INTERACTIVE Demos that are quite fun, and very instructive. Overall the fact that the demos are separate from the DVDs shortened the course down to only 12 hours, which is a remarkable achievement, and a real time-saver.
Date published: 2012-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fine Synthesis! Even those who aced their high school physics courses will find this series of lectures worthwhile. It reviews all the major facets of classical physics, from gravity and conservation of momentum to Maxwell’s Laws and entropy. Enthusiastic and passionate, Professor Pollock has a straightforward and no nonsense approach. With a bit of naiveté perhaps, he strongly intends for his listeners to experiment ... and think for themselves. Though he occasionally gets ahead of himself, he is generally very well organized and succeeds in bringing together in a few lectures what is covered in hours upon hours of high school classes. Although there are some references to visual elements, the audio version is perfectly fine. Overall, this course is strongly recommended to all.
Date published: 2012-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but could have been better Very good review of classical physics. Gave my wife who is nurse an introduction to physics with a bit of help from me. The professor falls short on two issues. Some of his analogies are a bit stretched and caused me to pause the DVD to explain what he meant. He missed many opportunities to use visual media to help him get his points across. Example use of a Van de Graaff generator or slides for equations. Might as well as listened to it on my mp3. In summary: very worthwhile but could have had a much better.presentation.
Date published: 2011-12-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very boring, very tedious, not to TTC standards There are a few things about this course that made it very tedious, and a pain to sit through. Really, it's the most boring physics course TTC has to offer. Why? Because, there are virtually no graphics throughout the whole course, the entire course is just the camera focused on the professor, who is explaining only the most basic ideas of physics. I'm okay with him explaining physics in very basic ways... But his presentation skill is a little poor - he could've set up simple actual examples with simple equipment, but for the most part he didn't. It was a treasure just to see a lady pull a piece of tape off a table... That was one example we were given amongst very few. Why couldn't of there been graphics, OR examples given in terms of what we could see, throughout every lecture? Instead it's just him talking and talking, and really - although I'm fairly new to studying physics, I learned almost nothing from this course. I'm surprised at the positive reviews this course has received... I found the whole thing painfully boring, as in contrast to Physics and Our Universe - which is spectacular. Another problem is, I don't think ANY math was presented through this whole course... In fact the professor on a few times said he just wasn't going to show us the math formulas for the concept he was talking about... WHY? He doesn't have to explain it, but at least put something on the screen. Also, virtually NO greek letters were introduced in this course. I'm talking about Delta, Theta, etc.. It's classical physics, I understand - but these terms could've been introduced in very basic ways... Instead it's just the professor talking, for 30 minute straight... On top of that, from a personal point of view... I found his voice to be whiny and annoying... That sounds mean, I know, but I'm being honest. By the 10th lecture, I really didn't want to hear his voice anymore, and really had to force myself to keep watching.
Date published: 2011-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Physics Course This course in classical physics was truly beneficial for me. The material was really well organized. I enjoyed the way the professor moved from one topic to another, building on ideas as he went. He mixed in just the right amount of historical content to make sense of the content that followed. I learned so much from this course. It was truly enjoyable and helpful to me. The professor obviously really loves the topic, and his enthusiasm is infectious. I was thrilled to see he also did a course on particle physics, which I watched after this one. Really glad I watched this one first! Well done. I highly recommend this course, and will likely watch it a few more times.
Date published: 2011-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exactly what I was looking for My kids entered an accelerated college prep school where they start teaching physics in the 6th grade. I was looking for help with the conceptual ideas so they could understand the fundamentals before they had to add the math. This course was perfect. It held their attention, and used examples they could immediately grasp. This course is a wonderful introduction for the non-scientist. Thank you Dr. Pollock and thank you Great Courses.
Date published: 2011-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Long Time No See I listened to this course almost 6 years ago. This is the course which instilled a passion for the sciences and physics in particular in me. I wondered back then: "How much of this universe do I not know?". Since then, I have listened to over 60 courses from The Teaching Company, going through every bit of physics and mathematics possible to grab, and then some. I have to recommend this course to anyone without a background in the pure sciences, since it gives a thorough perspective on the history and methods of physicists and their discovery. It is a course for beginners in physics since it is about classical physics and it contains all the major ideas and characters positioned in chronological order, making the assimilation of every bit of idea and their context particularly friendly. Steven Polock has 2 courses from the teaching company and is featured in a third one as an outstanding teacher (see "Art of Teaching" by Professor Patrick Allitt). His presentations are always outstanding and the material is clear and accurate.
Date published: 2011-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Ideas In Classical Physics Professor Pollock does excellent work in providing connecting material to help viewers and learners understand how some of the important ideas of physics came about. This course is excellent supplementary material for an introductory high school or college first principles physics course. What he does best is make the material 'fun.' Too often classroom physics courses begin with diagrams, formulas, and derivations. Dr. Pollack helps the student step back, reflect, and implicitly answers the "so what?" and "why do I care?" questions that students learning math and science sometimes mull over. I await his next offering.
Date published: 2011-08-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Perhaps Too Easy A Ride I do not want anyone to be put off by my somewhat average review of Dr. Pollock's course on Classical Physics. I found Dr. Pollock to have total command of his materials and his message. I would suggest, however, that you be aware of the course content and the somewhat "Cliff's Notes" approach to it. Dr. Pollock, in my view, has gone a bit too easy on his audience and has offered a course that is so stripped down and devoid of all mathematics that it ends up as an appetizer with no main dish. You are not likely to be pushed or challenged here and, despite the fact that Dr. Pollock is a natural teacher, he leaves us with a bit of "Is that all there is?" I don't think it had to be this way since, as Dr. Wolfson proved in his "Einstein and the Quantum Revolution" course, the first few of his lectures, which also covered Classical Physics, did not leave me feeling this way. Still, I look forward to Dr. Pollock's Particle Physics course, which I expect will take me on a more stimulating ride.
Date published: 2011-06-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not college level I would expect these lectures in high school. Very slow moving. Additionally, the information is repeated 2-4 times. Not a great course.
Date published: 2011-02-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for commuters This is a review just of the CD version. I usually listen to lectures on my daily commute, so that's what I ordered. It was a mistake. Professor Pollock is engaging and understandable, but I couldn't follow the arguments while driving. Also, his description of arrows pointing this way and that just didn't work without being able to see them. When I finished, I found I had retained very little. Audio is definitely not the best medium for this subject.
Date published: 2010-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from classical physics Like one of its main topics, this course gains momentum on the second disk. Have patience with the first few extremely generic topics, and the seemingly incessant hand gesticulations, and you'll appreciate the last half of the course even more.
Date published: 2010-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Physics intro for Humanities Folk I didn't take a lot of Math or Science in college, and have been using Teaching Company courses to fill in some gaps in my understanding of this crazy world we live in. For my purposes, this course was great. Since finishing this class, I've viewed two other Teaching Company Physics courses on more esoteric topics, and found that these 24 lectures prepared me very well for those more advanced discussions. If this goes into a new edition, I wouldn't mind seeing it extended by another 12 lectures to survey things like fluid dynamics and optics - i.e. to give a little more of a taste of the specialized areas of classical physics once you get past motion and electro-magnetism, but maybe it's hard to introduce those without making a more math-intensive course, something this is not. (FWIW - I'm not afraid of a little algebra or geometry in my Teaching Company courses.)
Date published: 2010-01-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nice history, very little math!! I bought this course hoping to review and hone my skills in working out physics problems. I found myself listening to an entire lecture to arrive at a formula I already knew. If you enjoy history and want the broad concepts of physics -- fine; otherwise this is not the course for you. Perhaps the teaching company could design a course along the lines of: The mathematics of physics -- something I did not get from this set. Also, this course could be listened to on audio; the graphics don't really enhance the presentation.
Date published: 2010-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My first Teaching Co. purchase and well worth it I purchased this course in audio format only for listening while commuting to work. I enjoyed it tremendously. Prof. Pollack's obvious engagement with the material was transferred to me as I listened. And I learned the answer to a science question I have asked for years, which made the total cost of the course justified (how does electro-magnetic phenomenon propagate through space).
Date published: 2010-01-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too simplistic I wish Teaching Company would had a rating system on the complexity of the courses. I purchased this course to enjoy the topic of classical physics which I had to take in college over 25 years ago. I had previously purchased the particle physics course by professor Pollock and found it interesting and entertaining. Mr. Pollock is a great professor, down to earth and capable of communicating the concepts in an intuitive way (and has a very pleasant personality). The level of the complexity and sophistication of this course, however, is at the lower high school years. The instructor had tried so hard to avoid ANY mathematics whatsoever which made it very odd and cumbersome to follow. The lecture on the Maxwell's equations was the worst treatment I have come across, the equations were not even shown on the screen while he was talking about them. I like to point out that a little bit of math actually helps to communicate scientific topics and facilitates better comprehension as in the Maxwell's equations. The Teaching Company needs to consider that people with interest in science do have a bit of math background and do expect to see some math in the lectures. After all, these are supposed to be college level material. It seems that some instructors go out of their way and do anything to avoid mathematics. Please keep in mind that math is language of science and some basic math doesn't hurt, but it can actually help. Everyone knows what E=MC2 is, but you don't have to be Einstein to understand the basics that the equations is communicating. Math phobia can create more problems than including a little bit in the lectures. If you don't have any idea what physics is about, then this course will keep you interested and you would enjoy professor Pollock for the entire 24 lectures. On the other hand -If you have some physics background, you may find the program too simplistic.
Date published: 2009-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! When I purchased this course, I didn't really think that I'd learn very much about physics, or that anything I managed to pick up would stick. I live in a household of people who talk about physics all the time, but I have never had a math or science background. I just wanted to be able to understand why my family and friends are so passionate about physics. Professor Pollock's course surpassed my expectations. In introducing each of the main ideas of classical physics, he described the scientists who originated them, and how these innovative ideas changed not only scientific thinking, but religion, philosophy, politics and society. I learned why planets rotate around the sun but don't fall into it; how sound-cancelling headphones work; and so much about electromagnetic fields, light and gravity that I've started coming up with my own theories and questions. I purchased the audio download version of this course inexpensively on sale, and listened to it over a few weeks while commuting by bus. I am grateful to Prof. Pollock and the Teaching Company for transforming those boring bus rides into an inspiring classroom. The first thing I did when I finished this course was buy a copy of Richard Feynman's QED, and read it cover to cover. Two months ago, I wouldn't have noticed that book.
Date published: 2009-09-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Helpful I first looked at this course with doubt if it would ever really help me. However, professor Pollock was able to demonstrate these classical ideas effectively. I took a physics course in high school but never really understood work, power, circuits, or waves. I now feel more comfortable with these topics and I am actually excited to continue on to a more advanced level. I would recommend this course for someone who wants to know about the general ideas of classical physics. Pollock does start with the known Newton laws, but he uses this mindset later in the lecture. He does expect you to be able to imagine what he is talking about, but if you try picturing it in your mind what he is trying to get across it makes so much sense. He wants you to start thinking in a way that allows you to understand what he is talking about. I found his descriptions to be very useful. This lecture is not for someone who wants all the equations for classical physics and wants an in-depth study, but it is excellent to get the basics of classical physics in your head and help give a foundation for more learning. Pollock does mention some equations, but only if it is essential to what he is talking about. He is mainly trying to get the idea across. I have found this idea part enormously beneficial. I can work equations fine, but I like to understand what I am doing. Pollock helped me to finally understand what I was doing in my physics class. Furthermore, I actually now have a basic understanding of waves. I was quite puzzled with the topic earlier, but now I feel comfortable with them. I bought the CD and I thought Pollock did an excellent job of explaining things for me. It might have been easier with visuals, but I got the idea he was trying to convey. I am definitely glad I bought this lecture.
Date published: 2009-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good summary Professor Pollock has created a simple but well explained course of the main ideas of Classical Physics. Prof Pollock explains the concepts in a simple and efficient way. I felt i easily understood all the material he presented. The only thing that could be improved is to use more diagrams and animations to aid the visual representation of ideas. The course was very verbal and although i purchased the DVD i think the CD would be OK.
Date published: 2009-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Anatomy, Body And Soul In reading other reviews, it appears a number of people got this course expecting something other than what they got. So, first I'm going to explain what this course is not. This course is NOT a technical math or physics course, nor is it a problem-solving course. Regarding equations, Prof. Pollock shows only a couple and goes into any detail at all into only one (Newton's famous F=ma). If your objective is to work problems in physics - or even to understand how specific physics problems are solved - this course is NOT it. As the title states, this is a course on the great ideas, the philosophers and scientists that moved physics forward. Prof. Pollock describes how the great names took what others had done and came up with new ideas on how to refine and expand on them. For example, Johannes Kepler discovered that the planets went around the Sun in elliptical paths, but his was a statistical discovery. He had no idea what caused it. This, and Galileo's work, set the table for Sir Isaac Newton and his great ideas and discoveries in motion, forces and gravity. Prof. Pollock discusses these and a whole lot more components of classical physics in terms of not only how they advanced the science, but also how they changed our view and understanding of the universe and how it works. They're like pieces of a puzzle, or per the professor, a "tapestry". Prof. Pollock explains how each new piece contributes to the overall picture, but will spare you the technical details of the pieces themselves. Personally, I got a tremendous benefit from this course. My long-ago high school and college physics classes were equation-oriented. I was running equations and converting things into other things, never having a clear idea of what these things were, let alone what they really meant. Regarding concepts, I have never had such an understanding as I do now. A few come to mind.... - I thought I understood Newton's third law of motion, but I didn't - until now. - I'll never look at fireworks again without thinking of conservation of momentum. - I have long since forgotten how to work Maxwell's equations, but for the first time I truly appreciate their significance. - The two lectures on thermodynamics were very useful and informative. I found Prof. Pollock to be quite effective as an instructor. In his "Particle Physics" TTC course, I felt he was overly tied to his notes, and this took away from his delivery. Not so here. He seems well at ease, is enthusiastic, and keeps the pace moving. He seems to be really having fun. Anyone wanting to know how all of classical physics fits together should really enjoy this course. And it's IDEALLY suited for persons looking forward to classroom physics. From this course, such a person will get a broad understanding of the ideas and concepts of physics, and will thus get much more out of the detail the classroom will provide. It might even provide a grade-point advantage. One final tip - watch the last lecture (#24) first. This sets your journey up nicely.
Date published: 2009-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Let there be Light... This is not cutting-edge physics, but it's not supposed to be. It's high school stuff, occasionally first year college. The beauty of this course is not F = MA. We all know that. The beauty is the way Professor Pollock explains it. Not many physics teachers have the gift of reducing to the understandable. This is not dumbing down. This is opening the door. Let the light shine in.
Date published: 2009-05-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Misleading The title should have read " The history of Physics" because that is really all this course is about. It is how physics came to be and not how to teach you physics. If you want to learn how F=ma came about and its applications with problems and solutions this is not the course. This is more of a background of the people who contributed to physics and how their attitude or environment might have been when they were doing their contribution to physics.
Date published: 2009-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from No Prerequistes Needed This is the second course of Dr Pollock's I have enjoyed. He gently covers world changing ideas in a style that makes you feel that he is talking just to you. This is not just a great history of physics up to Einstein - it's a great history of some of the truly astonishing personalities and ideas of science. You don't any prior courses in Physics to enjoy and learn from this course. Where were Physics teachers like Dr. Pollock when i was in school? Give this professor an encore!
Date published: 2009-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not College Physics, but The Great Ideas... I loved it, but then again I took it for what it was advertised to be; a review of the Great Ideas of Classical Physics. I was not expecting a Mr. Wizard show, or even a copy of a Discovery or Nova show. As a result, I ordered it as an MP3 to listen to while driving, and I thought it was superb. I was able to walk away having been exposed to an excellent refresher on most of the basic ideas of classical physics, and with a better understanding in those areas that I either never learned, or simply forgot. As some of the other reviewers alluded to, I do not think this course would be appropriate if you have recently taken physics in college, or even AP physics in High School, unless you are just a nerd like me... then you will love it anyways! The professor was an excellent speaker, and kept the course fun! Well worth the money and the time to listen to it.
Date published: 2009-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Should Have Been More Engaging This was the first of Pollock's courses that I watched and I was quite underwhelmed. While Pollock is good at conveying conceptual transformations in science - I thought he was particularly good on Maxwell - I was expecting something far more engaging and full of real experimentation. However, unlike DNAunion I felt that Pollock's course on Particle physics was clearly superior to his effort here - and this seems to fit given that he is a particle physicist. Pollock appears to have been nominated by TTC to do this course almost as someone filling in - on the assumption that any old specialist will do for a course on classical physicis when what was (is) really needed is someone with a stronger history of popularising classical science.
Date published: 2009-01-06
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The Great Ideas of Classical Physics
1: The Great Ideas of Classical Physics

Professor Pollock opens the course with an overview of the domain of classical physics: forces and motion, matter and energy, space and time, and particles and waves.

34 min
Describing Motion - A Break from Aristotle
2: Describing Motion - A Break from Aristotle

Greek natural philosophers made enormous progress 2,000 years ago but missed something essential in their analysis of nature - the scientific method. This lecture examines Galileo's challenge to ancient ideas.

30 min
Describing Ever More Complex Motion
3: Describing Ever More Complex Motion

Galileo's study of marbles rolling down ramps led to a distinction between velocity and acceleration. Acceleration is one of the paradigmatic ideas in physics, relating to the concept of rate of change.

31 min
Astronomy as a Bridge to Modern Physics
4: Astronomy as a Bridge to Modern Physics

Speculations on Earth's place in the universe, the nature of planets, and the structure of the solar system were at the heart of the development of classical physics. This lecture looks at the work of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

30 min
Isaac Newton - The Dawn of Classical Physics
5: Isaac Newton - The Dawn of Classical Physics

The turning point in the development of classical physics traces to Isaac Newton. This lecture covers Newton's background and the first two of his laws of motion, involving inertia (mass), acceleration, and force.

30 min
Newton Quantified - Force and Acceleration
6: Newton Quantified - Force and Acceleration

The master idea for this course is Newton's statement of the relationship between force and acceleration: F = ma. This formula determines almost all of classical physics. It is at once simple and deep.

31 min
Newton and the Connections to Astronomy
7: Newton and the Connections to Astronomy

Thinking about circular motion led Newton to an understanding of planetary motion, closing the loop with Galileo, Kepler, and Copernicus, and making sense of a Sun-centered solar system and its connection to everyday motion.

30 min
Universal Gravitation
8: Universal Gravitation

Newton's deduction of the law of gravity involved some speculation, just a little math, and a lot of creativity. Remarkably, it succeeded in unifying terrestrial and celestial phenomena into one framework.

30 min
Newton's Third Law
9: Newton's Third Law

Newton's third law of motion ("for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction") can be exasperatingly counterintuitive at first, but it makes perfect sense in terms of a new quantity, momentum.

29 min
Conservation of Momentum
10: Conservation of Momentum

Introducing the concept of momentum broadens the power of physics and results in the Newtonian world-view of the universe as a deterministic clockwork, based on only a few basic underlying and unified principles.

31 min
Beyond Newton - Work and Energy
11: Beyond Newton - Work and Energy

A century after Newton, a new concept more abstract than force gained popularity: energy. Energy forms the basis of understanding everything from chemistry and biology to geology and engineering.

30 min
Power and the Newtonian Synthesis
12: Power and the Newtonian Synthesis

The concept that energy can move from place to place and change forms helps explain why things behave as they do. The rate at which energy flows from one system to another (the power) explains even more.

30 min
Further Developments - Static Electricity
13: Further Developments - Static Electricity

In Newton's day, electricity and magnetism were mere curiosities. By the 19th century, serious investigation into these phenomena began. Though heralded as "new" forces of nature, they still fit within the Newtonian framework.

31 min
Electricity, Magnetism, and Force Fields
14: Electricity, Magnetism, and Force Fields

In his studies of electricity and magnetism, Michael Faraday introduced the radical idea of the force "field." Sources create a field around them, and other objects then respond locally to that field.

31 min
Electrical Currents and Voltage
15: Electrical Currents and Voltage

This lecture covers electrical concepts such as charge, voltage, and current. Progress in understanding electricity in the 19th century led to rapid developments in applied physics.

31 min
The Origin of Electric and Magnetic Fields
16: The Origin of Electric and Magnetic Fields

Electricity and magnetism are distinct but intimately related. This lecture explores the myriad connections between them, leading to a deeper understanding of the unity of electromagnetic physics.

31 min
Unification I - Maxwell's Equations
17: Unification I - Maxwell's Equations

In one of the great triumphs of classical physics, James Clerk Maxwell summarized two centuries of research on electricity and magnetism in four famous equations, explained here in words and concepts.

30 min
Unification II - Electromagnetism and Light
18: Unification II - Electromagnetism and Light

Published in the 1860s, Maxwell's equations made a startling prediction: Electric and magnetic fields should interact to produce electromagnetic waves - of which visible light is only a tiny range of a vast spectrum.

31 min
Vibrations and Waves
19: Vibrations and Waves

Vibrations and the associated phenomenon of waves are everywhere in the natural world. Understanding the big ideas of waves plays a key role in the developing story of physics.

30 min
Sound Waves and Light Waves
20: Sound Waves and Light Waves

One hundred years after Newton described light as a stream of particles, Thomas Young turned the world of optics on its head when he demonstrated that light was not made of particles but was in fact a wave phenomenon.

32 min
The Atomic Hypothesis
21: The Atomic Hypothesis

Atoms provide a unifying principle even greater than Maxwell's equations. Energy, structure of materials, chemistry, heat, optics, and much more become simpler to describe and explain at a fundamental level.

29 min
Energy in Systems - Heat and Thermodynamics
22: Energy in Systems - Heat and Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is the study of heat and energy. When there are large numbers of particles, average quantities become easier, not more difficult, to predict. This is the heart of thermodynamics.

31 min
Heat and the Second Law of Thermodynamics
23: Heat and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

One of the last great developments of classic physics was the discovery of a new property of systems, entropy, defined colloquially as "you can't win, you can't break even, and you can't get out of the game."

31 min
The Grand Picture of Classical Physics
24: The Grand Picture of Classical Physics

Classical physics is defined in part historically and in part by a philosophical outlook: The world is ordered, and there is a limited set of fundamental ideas that explain and predict all natural phenomena.

31 min
Steven Pollock

I feel inspired by Michael Faraday (in 1857!): 'When a mathematician has arrived at his conclusions, may they not be expressed in … common language? Would it not be a great boon?... I think it must be so.


Stanford University


University of Colorado, Boulder

About Steven Pollock

Dr. Steven Pollock is Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He earned his B.S. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his master's degree and Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University. Prior to taking his position at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Professor Pollock was a senior researcher at the National Institute for Nuclear and High Energy Physics. In 2013, Professor Pollock was honored with a U.S. Professor of the Year award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He is also the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and the University of Colorado?s Boulder Faculty Assembly Teaching Excellence Award. He has taught a wide variety of physics courses at all levels, from introductory physics to advanced nuclear and particle physics, with an intriguing recent foray into the physics of energy and the environment. Professor Pollock is the author of the multimedia textbook Physics I. He became a Pew/Carnegie National Teaching Scholar in 2001, and is a member of the American Physical Society-Nuclear Physics Division and the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has presented both nuclear physics research and his scholarship on teaching at numerous conferences, seminars, and colloquia.

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