Walter Lewin Lectures on Physics

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The Walter Lewin Lectures on Physics are a set of three courses including video lectures on physics by former MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin. He explains the basics of classical mechanics, electricity, magnetism, vibrations, waves and introductory topics on astrophysics. It was prepared in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has been used by millions of students, teachers and self-learners around the world.

In late 2014, MIT indefinitely removed Lewin's lectures from OpenCourseWare and MITx due to a sexual harassment case.[1] His lectures are still featured on other independent educational websites under the Creative Commons license.


Walter Lewin explaining one-dimensional elastic collisions during a physics lecture.

Many of Walter Lewin's lectures have been shown for over six years on UWTV in Seattle, reaching an audience of over four million people.[citation needed] For fifteen years he was on MIT Cable TV helping freshmen with their weekly homework assignments. His programs, which were aired 24 hours per day, were also frequently watched by upper-class students. His special lectures given at MIT for science teachers and for middle school students can be viewed on Lewin's YouTube channel. The three sets of video lectures are separated into classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism and vibrations and waves. All of the video lectures were available for free from MIT OpenCourseWare.[2]

On December 8, 2014 all the material from his courses including the video lectures were pulled from OpenCourseWare after MIT announced that it determined that Lewin had engaged in sexual harassment of an MITx learner.[3] However, the video lectures continue to be available on Lewin's YouTube channel.

Classical mechanics[edit]

8.01 is a first-semester freshman physics class in Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics, and kinetic gas theory at MIT. In addition to the basic concepts of Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics, and kinetic gas theory, a variety of interesting topics are covered in this course: binary stars, neutron stars, black holes, resonance phenomena, musical instruments, stellar collapse, supernovae, Astronomical observations from very high flying balloons (lecture 35), and a peek into the intriguing quantum world.

Electricity and magnetism[edit]

8.02 is a second-semester freshman physics class in electromagnetism at MIT. The 36 video lectures on electricity and magnetism, by Professor Lewin, were recorded on the MIT campus during the Spring of 2002. Prof. Lewin is well-known at MIT and beyond for his dynamic and engaging lecture style.

This class includes many topics, specially the classical theory of electromagnetism. In addition to the basic concepts of electromagnetism, a vast variety of interesting topics are covered in this course: lightning, pacemakers, electric shock treatment, electrocardiograms, metal detectors, musical instruments, magnetic levitation, bullet trains, electric motors, radios, TV, car coils, superconductivity, aurora borealis, rainbows, radio telescopes, interferometers, particle accelerators (a.k.a. atom smashers or colliders), mass spectrometers, red sunsets, blue skies, haloes around Sun and Moon, color perception, Doppler effect, Big-Bang cosmology.

Vibrations and waves[edit]

8.03 deals with lots of topics in physics dealing with vibrations and waves. Topics include: mechanical vibrations and waves; simple harmonic motion, superposition, forced vibrations and resonance, coupled oscillations and normal modes; vibrations of continuous systems; reflection and refraction; phase and group velocity. Optics; wave solutions to Maxwell's equations; polarization; Snell's Law, interference, Huygens' principle, Fraunhofer diffraction and gratings.

In addition to the traditional topics of mechanical vibrations and waves, coupled oscillators, and electro-magnetic radiation, students also learn about musical instruments, red sunsets, glories, coronae, rainbows, haloes, X-ray binaries, neutron stars, black holes and Big-Bang cosmology.


  1. ^ Juan Esteban Cajigas Jimenez (December 9, 2014). "MIT removes professor's online lectures after harassment charge". Boston Globe. 
  2. ^ "Walter Lewin". MIT Department of Physics. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "MIT indefinitely removes online physics lectures and courses by Walter Lewin". MIT News Office. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 

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