Annenberg CPB · 1987 · Presenter: David Goodstein
The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond is a critically-acclaimed series of 52 thirty-minute videotape programs covering the basic topics of an introductory university physics course. The series was originally produced as a broadcast telecourse by the California Institute of Technology and Intelecom, Inc. with program funding from the Annenberg/CPB Project.
Each program in the series opens and closes with Caltech Professor David Goodstein providing philosophical, historical and often humorous insight into the subject at hand while lecturing to his freshman physics class. The Mechanical Universe contains hundreds of computer animation segments, created by Dr. 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.
The series has been broadcast as a telecourse over the PBS television network and can still be seen on many PBS stations. The Mechanical Universe is arguably the most successful attempt to date to use video technology in the presentation of rigorous physics instruction.
This preview introduces revolutionary ideas and individuals from Copernicus to Newton, and links the physics of the heavens and the earth.
2. THE LAW OF FALLING BODIES
Galileo's imaginative experiments proved that all bodies fall with the same constant acceleration.
The function of mathematics in physical science and the derivative as a practical tool.
Galileo risked his favored status to answer the questions of the universe with his law of inertia.
6. NEWTON’S LAWS
Newton lays down the laws of force, mass, and acceleration.
Newton and Leibniz arrive at the conclusion that differentiation and integration are inverse processes.
8. THE APPLE AND THE MOON
The first real steps toward space travel are made as Newton discovers that gravity describes the force between any two particles in the universe.
9. MOVING IN CIRCLES
A look at the Platonic theory of uniform circular motion.
10. FUNDAMENTAL FORCES
All physical phenomena of nature are explained by four forces: two nuclear forces, gravity, and electricity.
11. GRAVITY, ELECTRICITY, AND MAGNETISM
Shedding light on the mathematical form of the gravitational, electric, and magnetic forces.
12. THE MILLIKAN EXPERIMENT
A dramatic recreation of Millikan's classic oil-drop experiment to determine the charge of a single electron.
13. CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
According to one of the major laws of physics, energy is neither created nor destroyed.
14. POTENTIAL ENERGY
Potential energy provides a powerful model for understanding why the world has worked the same way since the beginning of time.
15. CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM
What keeps the universe ticking away until the end of time?
16. HARMONIC MOTION
The music and mathematics of periodic motion.
Why a swaying bridge collapses with a high wind, and why a wine glass shatters with a higher octave. [An epilogue was added to the question set to acknowledge that it was aeroelastic flutter rather than vortex-shedding resonance that brought the Tacoma Narrows Bridge down.]
With an analysis of simple harmonic motion and a stroke of genius, Newton extended mechanics to the propagation of sound.
19. ANGULAR MOMENTUM
An old momentum with a new twist.
20. TORQUES AND GYROSCOPES
From spinning tops to the precession of the equinoxes.
21. KEPLER’S THREE LAWS
The discovery of elliptical orbits helps describe the motion of heavenly bodies with unprecedented accuracy.
22. THE KEPLER PROBLEM
The deduction of Kepler's laws from Newton's universal law of gravitation is one of the crowning achievements of Western thought.
23. ENERGY AND ECCENTRICITY
The precise orbit of a heavenly body—a planet, asteroid, or comet—is fixed by the laws of conservation of energy and angular momentum.
24. NAVIGATING IN SPACE
Voyages to other planets use the same laws that guide planets around the solar system.
25. FROM KEPLER TO EINSTEIN
From Kepler's laws and the theory of tides, to Einstein's general theory of relativity, into black holes, and beyond.
26. HARMONY OF THE SPHERES
A last lingering look back at mechanics to see new connections between old discoveries.
27. BEYOND THE MECHANICAL UNIVERSE
The world of electricity and magnetism, and 20th-century discoveries of relativity and quantum mechanics.
28. STATIC ELECTRICITY
Eighteenth-century electricians knew how to spark the interest of an audience with the principles of static electricity.
29. THE ELECTRIC FIELD
Faraday's vision of lines of constant force in space laid the foundation for the modern force field theory.
30. POTENTIAL AND CAPACITANCE
Franklin proposes a successful theory of the Leyden jar and invents the parallel plate capacitor.
31. VOLTAGE, ENERGY, AND FORCE
When is electricity dangerous or benign, spectacular or useful?
32. THE ELECTRIC BATTERY
Volta invents the electric battery using the internal properties of different metals.
33. ELECTRIC CIRCUITS
The work of Wheatstone, Ohm, and Kirchhoff leads to the design and analysis of how current flows.
Gilbert discovered that the earth behaves like a giant magnet. Modern scientists have learned even more.
35. THE MAGNETIC FIELD
The law of Biot and Sarvart, the force between electric currents, and Ampère's law.
36. VECTOR FIELDS AND HYDRODYNAMICS
Force fields have definite properties of their own suitable for scientific study.
37. ELECTROMAGNETIC INDUCTION
The discovery of electromagnetic induction created an important technological breakthrough in the generation of electric power.
38. ALTERNATING CURRENTS
Electromagnetic induction makes it easy to generate alternating current while transformers make it practical to distribute it over long distances.
39. MAXWELL’S EQUATIONS
Maxwell discovers that displacement current produces electromagnetic waves or light.
Many properties of light are properties of waves, including reflection, refraction, and diffraction.
41. THE MICHELSON-MORLEY EXPERIMENT
In 1887, an exquisitely designed measurement of the earth's motion through the ether results in the most brilliant failure in scientific history.
42. THE LORENTZ TRANSFORMATION
If the speed of light is to be the same for all observers, then the length of a meter stick, or the rate of a ticking clock, depends on who measures it.
43. VELOCITY AND TIME
Einstein is motivated to perfect the central ideas of physics, resulting in a new understanding of the meaning of space and time.
44. MASS, MOMENTUM, AND ENERGY
The new meaning of space and time make it necessary to formulate a new mechanics.
45. TEMPERATURE AND THE GAS LAWS
Hot discoveries about the behavior of gases make the connection between temperature and heat.
46. THE ENGINE OF NATURE
The Carnot engine, part one, beginning with simple steam engines.
The Carnot engine, part two, with profound implications for the behavior of matter and the flow of time through the universe.
48. LOW TEMPERATURES
With the quest for low temperatures came the discovery that all elements can exist in each of the basic states of matter.
49. THE ATOM
A history of the atom, from the ancient Greeks to the early 20th century, and a new challenge for the world of physics.
50. PARTICLES AND WAVES
Evidence that light can sometimes act like a particle leads to quantum mechanics, the new physics..
51. FROM ATOMS TO QUARKS
Electron waves attracted to the nucleus of an atom help account for the periodic table of the elements and ultimately lead to the search for quarks.
52. THE QUANTUM MECHANICAL UNIVERSE
A last look at where we've been and a peek into the future.
Question sets are available for individual episodes as well as the volumes indicated. The complete series bundle is available at a discounted price. Student documents and answer keys are provided as Google Docs on Google Drive.