Great Ideas of Classical Physics

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

Great Ideas of Classical Physics is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 75.
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
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for those who know anything about physics I ordered the course for two reasons: (1) to show my children in order to teach them classical physics, and (2) so that I could sit back, relax, and watch a DVD to refresh my knowledge of classical physics from time to time. But I found this course useless for both purposes. There are a lot of words being said without much usable information being presented. And sometimes, the lecturer seems almost to be trying to AVOID giving the listener information. PS: I have another course (on Particle Physics) by the same professor and it is not, in my opinion, any better.
Date published: 2008-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emphasis on ideas and experiment This course fully deserves its title. It is focused on ideas, great ideas that make physics. Though the level of mathematics required remains deliberatley low, the professor emphasizes the need to experiment and to confront models. I highly recommend this course to anyone with a low level in physics (as I am) but nonetheless interested in this field.
Date published: 2008-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The lectures are well prepared. They offer an excellent opportunity to expand one's knowledge in today's busy world.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Course not broad enough for the student without background/previous knowledge. Needs graphs,pictures,graphs,pictures intrructors hands tied without graphs and pictures.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A great disappointment- The course is dull and uninteresting- I thought GREAT IDEAS would pertain to things, inventions and how physics pertained to them.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If I would have had a teacher like Prof. Pollock when I was young, I would have been an astronaught now instead of a locomotive mechanic. What enthusiasm he brings!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very impressed and satisfied with (almost) all my courses. Dr. Pollack could make the telephone directory interesting.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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