Great Ideas of Classical Physics

Course No. 1295
Professor Steven Pollock, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Boulder
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Course No. 1295
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Course Overview

There is a hidden order in the ceaselessly changing world around us. It's called classical physics, and it's about how the world is put together. Classical physics is about how things move, why they move, and how they work. It's about making sense of motion, gravity, light, heat, sound, electricity, and magnetism, and seeing how these phenomena interweave to create the rich tapestry of everyday experience.

Sound complicated? It's not—you already know more physics than you think, says award-winning science educator Steven Pollock.

Basic Principles You Can Learn

In this mind-expanding series of 24 lectures, Professor Steven Pollock takes you step by step through the Great Ideas of Classical Physics, showing that landmark concepts such as Newton's laws of motion are intuitively understood by anyone who has ever ridden a bike, thrown a ball, slid across ice, or simply picked up an object and set it down.

Created over the course of three centuries by a series of brilliant thinkers, including Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, and James Clerk Maxwell, classical physics is an elegant system of ideas that connect a range of seemingly unrelated phenomena.

Everything from the acceleration of a car, to the orbit of a planet, to the deflection of a compass needle, to the baking of a cake, to the flow of electricity through a light bulb as you read this—and much more—is linked by a set of basic principles that you can learn.

And you don't have to study complicated mathematical equations to see these connections—as Professor Pollock proves by teaching this course largely without math, by relying on metaphor, life experience, ordinary logic, and common sense. Dr. Pollock will be familiar to many Teaching Company customers for his course, Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos.

The Universe Is Your Laboratory

What are the great ideas of classical physics? They are the conceptual tools that allow us to make sense of the world. They include discoveries, theories, insights, methods, and philosophical points of view. You will explore many of these breakthrough ideas, for example:

  • Experiment: It may seem obvious that if you want to understand something, you should experiment on it and not just think about it. But this idea did not catch on until Galileo performed a series of revolutionary investigations of motion in the early 1600s.
  • Use standards: One of the secrets of Galileo's success was that he used standard procedures, units, and techniques of analysis to compare his results. This approach led him to conclusions, like his principle of inertia, that no else had ever imagined.
  • Simplify: Another powerful insight of Galileo's was to start with simple cases and add complexity later. All physicists do this. In fact, they have a joke about it: A physicist is hired to advise a dairy farmer and says, "First, assume a spherical cow"!
  • Recognize the fundamental nature of obvious things: The common observation that hot objects cool down and cold ones warm up became the basis for the second law of thermodynamics, proposed by the French engineer Sadi Carnot in the early 1800s. The second law has profound implications for heat engines and for the "direction" of time.

Along with these and other general concepts, you learn about such basic features of reality as force and energy, space and time, electricity and magnetism; and you learn how these properties interact in a range of situations. As you proceed through the course, you will find that the entire universe—from atoms to galaxies—is your laboratory.

Powerful and Surprisingly Beautiful Ideas

The course opens in ancient Greece with Aristotle's commonsense analysis of motion. His ideas held sway until the early 1600s, when Galileo challenged them with one of the simplest yet most profound experiments of all time—he rolled marbles down an inclined plane.

The technique allowed Galileo to explore the action of gravity "in slow motion" to show that, contrary to Aristotle's claims, all objects fall at the same rate regardless of mass, and that the speed of a falling object steadily increases—it accelerates.

A generation after Galileo, Newton united the laws of heavenly and earthly motion in a grand synthesis that marked the full dawn of classical physics. The exploration of Newton's three laws of motion and his universal law of gravitation forms the core of the first half of the course.

In the second half of the course, Professor Pollock introduces the ideas of electricity and magnetism. Considered curiosities in Newton's day, these seemingly minor marvels were integrated into the classical picture in the 19th century through the remarkable work of Faraday, Maxwell, and others.

The course concludes with a series of lectures on waves, optics, atoms, and thermodynamics, bringing classical physics to the brink of the watershed theories of relativity and quantum mechanics in the early 20th century, which marked the start of modern physics.

Your Homework: Play a Little Bit

Classical physics was invented by people at play, and Dr. Pollock encourages you to do the same. "There will be many times in this course when you should just go after class and play a little bit," he counsels. That's what Galileo, Faraday, and other pioneer scientists did.

Here are some playful activities that Dr. Pollock recommends:

  • Falling objects: When you drop a pen and a piece of paper at the same time, it seems to confirm the commonsense expectation that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones. But now crumple the sheet of paper and drop them again. What happens?
  • Static electricity: Put one piece of sticky tape on top of another, and then attach them to a table. Label the top piece of tape "T" and the bottom piece "B." Yank the pair off, and then quickly separate them. Investigate their behavior near each other and near identically prepared pieces. What's going on?
  • Magnetism: Using two magnets, probe their interacting force fields by passing one all around the other. Where are the areas of attraction and repulsion? What accounts for this invisible force?
  • Waves: A Slinky demonstrates the particlelike properties of some waves. To see how, expand a Slinky and jerk your hand, making a pulse travel from one end to the other. Like a particle, the pulse is localized; it also has a speed, and it can reflect off boundaries. Yet it is a wave.

The Course Guidebook that comes with this course includes many more activities for creative play through online computer simulations, developed by Dr. Pollock's education research colleagues.

On the Shoulders of Giants

Some people accept the mystery of the world at face value and never inquire further. Physicists can't help but seek answers, and you will feel the same way.

If you want to understand how a baseball behaves in a baseball stadium, or how the electricity for your house is generated, or how your microwave oven works, these are ideas that can be understood from classical physics. If you are concerned about energy and the environment, then the tools provided by this course are sufficient for you to understand the scientific questions.

Isaac Newton once commented that if he had seen farther than others, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants. "Classical physics is the giant on whose shoulder we stand today," says Professor Pollock, "as we move into new realms of study, into modern physics, or contemporary biology, or any of a number of modern disciplines."

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 9
    Newton's Third Law
    Newton's third law of motion ("for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction") can be exasperatingly counter-intuitive at first, but it makes perfect sense in terms of a new quantity, momentum. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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. x
  • 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." x
  • 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. x

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Your professor

Steven Pollock

About Your Professor

Steven Pollock, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Boulder
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...
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Great Ideas of Classical Physics is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 71.
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great ideas of Classical Physics Terrible--You want it back? I needed a book on Physics, not a lecture on the developers of Physics.
Date published: 2017-08-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Needs graphics This review is only on the first DVD (12 lectures.) This review is a composite of two observers (one novice and one advanced.) To a novice, the material is presented with only verbal descriptions so it is difficult to absorb. Some simple dynamic graphics should be expected to illustrate the concepts. To an advanced viewer the lectures progress too slowly. I would recommend this only to a novice who has someone else to provide the details (interpret the verbal explanations.) The format of the presentation (only a simple lecture room with no blackboards or image presentation is not suited to this subject.) Other lecture series from the Great Courses have been excellent with this format of presentation.
Date published: 2017-06-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I have not yet viewed all course chapters, but to date I find the lectures engaging and helpful. I agree with other reviewers that the course material is quite basic and not as challenging as represented, however I was looking more for basic fundamentals and am not disappointed that the materials do not meet the standards for college prep physics. My one negative comment is that based on the other courses I had ordered this course would be streamed. However, only after I called customer serviced did I find that this course is one of the extremely few that cannot be streamed. This was quite disappointing as streaming is a most convenient way to go through the courses. I found nothing in the catalog that cautioned me otherwise. In my conversation with the customer service representative, I was told only that he was sorry, but nothing could be done. I had hoped that there would be some explanation why better disclosures could not have been made, to better help me decide whether this particular course would work for me.
Date published: 2017-06-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Should be more rigorous Professor Pollock is very engaging and charming and the subject matter is very interesting but I'm sorry to say I'm losing interest in this course. I don't want to watch a survey or casual description of these groundbreaking concepts in Physics. I want to know how to calculate velocity heat flow or whatever the topic is. It's quite frustrating to see Professor Pollock side-step the equations underlying the concepts he's describing. We get to hear about F=MA but don't use the equation to solve any problems, even in the Course Guidebook. Professor Pollock keeps referring to the things you'd be asked to do in an introductory Physics course. Isn't this an introductory Physics course? I'd thought and hoped it was. I would surely take another course taught by Professor Pollock if it is mathematically rigorous.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed Given the description of the lecturer, I expected superior lectures. That's not what I found. The lectures were unfocussed, with poorly defined objectives. The language used was imprecise and inconsistent. Worst of all they were uninspiring. I gave better Physics lectures in the High School courses I taught.
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a wonder subject/professor. I always wanted to learn physics from way back in high school days, well over 40 years ago from the area of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The subject has always intrigued me. I only had to find the right teacher for me. Dr. Pollock presents this subject in a way that I can understand it now that I am ready to learn it. Thank you very much.
Date published: 2017-03-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A high School Level Course I liked the lecturer. He obviously had a deep understanding of his subject and really tried to make his subject matter interesting. However the course seemed to be something more suited to high school students as opposed to college students. It wasn't only that he assumed that the listeners had no physics background (and I mean none at all - not even middle school physics), but he assumed that his listeners had no math ability at all - he explained how he did basic multiplication. And when he talked about the theorems, he used analogies but never actually explained the theorems if they were any more complicated than F=MA. I can't say that I didn't enjoy the lectures, I just wish that he would have assumed the listener had (at least once) been accepted to college. This course is really suitable only for someone with no science background looking for the most basic introduction to physics.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Course -- Highly Recommended I would give this course 6 stars if I could. The professor's presentation is astonishingly clear and intuitive. Without being hypertechnical, the course brought me a considerably deeper understanding of the subject. In particular, the explanation of Maxwell's Equations and their implications for electromagnetic radiation is the best I have ever seen. This course is superb both as a stand-alone or as a supplement to one with fuller quantitative and mathematical elaboration.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from In a quandary I am confused. The course covers a interesting topic. The instructor has good training, teaches at a good school, and has received significant awards as well as a promotion (after the courdse was recorded). Conversely, my reaction would be to give the course two stars and the instructor one star. I'd even say, don't go to Boulder to study physics, though we all know that's not true. There is a big disconnect between the rating I would expect and my reaction to the course. So I compromised with three stars. To be fair, I have not read other reviews so see if I'm really off base here. You will need to form your own opinion of the course.
Date published: 2016-08-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not for beginners I am male 55 years old hold a PhD from the London School of Economics and have been working for over 25 years as a professional economist. I must have watched 20-30 Great Courses over the past ten years. No exaggeration to say it has changed my life and given me great intellectual satisfaction. I consider this course as definitely the worst. No-one, no-one can hope to "learn" physics from scratch by watching this. If one knows physics already (as I do to first-year college level) one should be able to follow though the teacher's presentation is not really organized. Clearly the teacher does not lack depth but simply he does not attempt to explain clearly or give a systematic exposition. At this point it might be useful to reveal that I have watched three courses given by Professor Starbird (whom some reviewers criticize on grounds of poor organization) and I quite liked them! I'm no severe judge but Prof. Pollock is far worse! He seems to be an expert in creating confusion! The scarcity of graphics (and of a blackboard for that matter) not to mention the nearly complete absence of demonstrations of experiments is particularly ridiculous and makes for such a poor comparison with Prof. Wolfson's courses. The teacher indicates by gestures (!) what would have been (at least in the early 20th century) written out or sketched on a blackboard by chalk. He seems to believe that he successfully gets rid of math by describing(!) the equations in words (here goes the numerator, there the denominator, there's a weighted average, mentioned but never indicated on slides or on the non-existent blackboard). One can only hope to follow if one has seen the equations beforehand. Does the course, then, illustrate what physics is about and what it has achieved over the centuries even if not explaining physics as such? That would require a Sean Carroll and hundreds more pictures and graphics for starters. Electricity, notably Maxwell equations, waves and thermodynamics comes out somewhat better than mechanics (the first half of the course) which appears as the low point. Though Prof. Pollock appears as a very nice and enthusiastic person and a highly knowledgeable physicist, one cannot avoid the feeling that the course signals lack of respect for the viewer.
Date published: 2016-03-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not a good purchase course is very slow. there has to be a better way to present this material. it takes the instructor forever to say anything.
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Standing on the shoulders of giants The professor does an excellent job covering the classical physics concepts at a perfect pace for the layperson, and he does so without being awkwardly distracting or annoying (like some of the lecturers in other courses). This one and Dr. Novella's "Medical Myths, Lies, and Half Truths" are my two favorite courses so far. I'll go back and relisten to this again in a few years to review, because it's so interesting as well as important. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2015-12-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Burdensome Imagine your worse college professor- this is what kept coming to my mind. I went to a good university where the professor wrote the book. It was straight forward and understandable. In this course, talk and talk and talk and then finally gets to the point. The examples are poorly presented. It also has so many personal comments that add nothing to the material. There is some history of the development of physics. I would not recommend this to anyone.
Date published: 2014-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good overview I missed out on taking physics in school, but have always loved history. This course filled both categories. Though certainly not a substitute for the study of physics, it is a good overview of the genesis and development of major theories and points of understanding in physics.
Date published: 2014-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The title says it all. This is neither a quantitative course, nor a course for passive listening. If you are wondering whether or not you need the video version, I recommend audio with this one. If you want to hear a knowledgable professor give a logical progression of many of the great ideas of physics, with bits of historical context thrown in, then this course is for you.
Date published: 2014-01-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Gesticulation over the top Learning why religion and the church are bad will not help me on my next Physics exam. This presentation was juvenile. I can see the potential with this professor but he clearly has some issues that stand in the way of the subject-matter. I needed what was advertised. Horrible job. However I have bought many courses from this company and this is the first bad one for me.
Date published: 2013-09-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not enough substance This course was way too hand wavy for my taste. We got f=ma, but little else in the way of meat on the bones. Kepler's laws were so watered down as to be almost unrecognizable. Certainly I can see that Maxwell's equations would be a bit much for a course such as this, but the equation for gravitational attraction isn't beyond a layman's grasp. It seemed like the instructor spent more time talking about there being great ideas in classical physics than he did in actually presenting them.
Date published: 2013-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice overview While I enjoyed listening to the course, I have to agree with the other reviewers, that this course is not quite as deep and satisfying as Dr Pollock's other, Particle Physics, course or Dr Wolfson's Physics in Our Universe. This aside, the material is very well presented and can be appreciated by audience with dislike of math and interest in basic physics concepts.
Date published: 2013-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthwhile Introduction or review Great Ideas of Classical Physics can be approached on a number of levels. This course works well as an introduction or a review of Classical Physics, as weel as a supplement for current students. It can be appreciated as a qualitative introduction and history of the development of Classical Physics. I would recommend Bernard Cohen’s “The Birth of a New Physics” from the bibliography if approaching it this way. For a review, after some years away from the classroom and math, it may be helpful to look at Cropper’s “Great Physicists” from the bibliography, and the PhET Simulations. It can be a supplement for current students, as an independent study prior to or during first year college physics and/or advanced placement high school with the Thinkwell online Physics calculus-based supplement, mentioned in the Course Book, which is available from a provider not related to TGC for a fee. One of the strengths of TGC, in my opinion, is the depth of levels that one can approach courses. Having the ability to review, delve into according to one’s interest, at one own’s pace makes these courses worthwhile for me. Professor Pollock is a good teacher and covers the material in an engaging way. No matter one’s background, I think this course is worth a look if you have an interest in Classical Physics.
Date published: 2012-12-16
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
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