Physics 121/122/123

Classical Physics

Welcome to year one physics!
Wow, are we in for a treat: MIT has graciously invited us to sit in with the delightful Professor Walter Lewin for the full series of freshman physics. As part of MIT's Open Courseware program, Prof. Lewin's lectures were recorded and made available on line several years ago; thereafter Lewin became something of a minor celebrity, and rightly so. I don't see the lectures listed on MIT's site currently, but another enthusiastic Lewin fan has made them available on the YouTube channel "For the Allure of Physics" (a reference to Lewin's book and lecture, "For the Love of Physics"). Links to individual course playlists are below.

Be sure to take advantage of your local public library as well! This material is not specialized enough that you will have much difficulty in finding good study materials. An AP (Advanced Placement) Physics test study guide should cover much at this level.

If you're here on line because you aren't able to attend a university, you might consider a community college. These introductory courses might be offered there.

If you are looking for a textbook, you will find that many if not most of them will break down first-year physics into the same three sections you see below. I recommend Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Richard Wolfson and Jay Pasachoff, but there are plenty of other good choices out there. Consider yourself lucky, but don't be too surprised, if you find one at your local second-hand store.

If the idea of running with the big dogs at MIT seems at all intimidating to you, forget about it. If you're confident of your understanding of the Physics videos on the Khan Academy site and you have finished their "missions" in differential and integral calculus, you are absolutely ready. Go for it and enjoy!

Course Number (Alternate Course ID) Course name Course overview Lecture Playlist Other Resources
PHYSICS 121 (MIT 8.01 Physics I)
Classical Mechanics In 20 words or less: The basics of measurement and the physics of everyday objects.

Units and dimensions; kinematics; vectors; projectile motion; uniform circular motion; Newton's laws of motion; weight and gravity; friction; work, momentum, and energy; collisions; angular motion and momentum; torque; Kepler's laws; Doppler effect; Gas and fluid dynamics.
8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics, Fall 1999 (35 lectures)
MIT course lecture notes, assignments, and exams (with solutions):

Khan Academy classical physics videos:

I totally give you permission - even command you, if that's what it takes - to play this game before "studying". Obsessively, for hours. I did. It totally changed how I think about many things (requires Adobe Flash Player - sorry, iOS users!):
Go ahead and dig into the source code by editing the URL in your browser's address bar and removing the page name to see what's in the directory. It's all hosted on the server for a Polish-Canadian news organization. Weird, right? I found it in February of 2013 and it's still there as of December 2014. Let me know if it disappears.

PHYSICS 122 (MIT 8.02 Physics II) Electricity and Magnetism In 20 words or less: Electricity, magnetism, and the deep connection between them.

Electric field; electric flux and Gauss' law; electrostatic potential and electric energy; current; capacitance; dielectrics; resistivity and Ohm's law;batteries and EMF; magnetic field; electromagnetic induction.
8.02 Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism, Spring 2002 (36 lectures)
MIT course lecture notes, assignments, and exams:

Khan Academy electricity and magnetism videos:

Absolutely try out Paul Falstad's java applets (or iOS apps, if you insist on using a device with no java . . . or if you're just fed up with your browser's java security settings):
This is a great interactive way to visualize electricity and magnetism. The source code is also available and worth checking out.
PHYSICS 123 (MIT 8.01 Physics III) Waves and Oscillatory Motion In 20 words or less: The physics of repeating processes.

Oscillations; resonance; Fourier analysis; electromagnetic waves.
8.03 Physics III: Vibrations and Waves, Fall 2004 (23 lectures)
MIT 8.03SC Vibrations and Waves Problem Solving Help Videos, Fall 2012

MIT course lecture notes:

Khan Academy waves and optics videos:

Again, try out Paul Falstad's java applets (or iOS apps):
The source code is also available and worth checking out.