Physics in Your Life ( video Lectures )

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 Physics in Your Life ( video Lectures )

Physics in Your Life | 36 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture | 5.7 GB
Taught by Richard Wolfson | Middlebury College | Ph.D., Dartmouth College


Why does a curve ball curve? Why does ice float? What's the perfect way to cook egg custard? How do CDs and DVDs work? Why don’t your legs break when you jump off a chair? What keeps a moving bicycle from falling over?
These questions involve physical principles that relate not only to interesting aspects of our daily lives, but also explain such phenomena as the cause of hurricanes, the formation of neutron stars, the ability of water to dissolve different substances, and other fundamental features of reality.

Therefore, this course that explores the physics of everyday events is not just informative and fun, it has the potential to lead to a deeper understanding of the universe.

But it takes a superb teacher to make these connections—to start with a nuts-and-bolts description of how a refrigerator works and end up with a profound insight into the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

Professor Richard Wolfson of Middlebury College is the ideal teacher to take you on this journey. The New York Times praised him as "absolutely stellar" in his Teaching Company course on modern physics, Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists. Now he brings the same enthusiasm to "everyday" physics, dealing with our basic understanding of the physical world as it applies to commonplace technologies and natural phenomena.

A Non-Mathematical Course Where "Seeing is Believing"

Physics in Your Life is more than a course in physics and more than a laundry list of "how things work." In fact, it combines the two, offering a back-and-forth interplay between everyday applications of physics and the concepts needed to understand them.

"My approach is entirely qualitative," says Professor Wolfson. "I believe you can understand physics, and understand it deeply, without using mathematics."

How does he do it? In the spirit of "seeing is believing," he uses an impressive array of experiments, gadgets, props, computer animations, short videos, diagrams, and pictures. Like Mr. Wizard of the classic TV science series, Professor Wolfson is a born showman. Among his hands-on demonstrations:

* A blown-up balloon is bathed in super-cold liquid nitrogen to show the contracting effect that heat loss has on the air inside the balloon.
* Professor Wolfson cranks a muscle-powered generator to demonstrate the surprising effort required to produce a mere 100 watts. Imagine if you had to generate all your electricity this way!
* A giant magnetic coil on a rotating shaft reveals the ingenious simplicity of the electric motor, used in everything from electric toothbrushes to locomotives.
* A curious phenomenon unfolds as a magnet is dropped through a hollow aluminum tube. Aluminum is non-magnetic, which means the magnet won't stick to it. But can you guess what happens?

You will also see experiments with lasers, lenses, bowling balls, gyroscopes, musical instruments, and more. And Professor Wolfson walks you step-by-step through the processes by which computers compute—from the level of electrons moving through semiconductors to binary bits, bytes, CPUs, RAM, all the way up to text and pictures appearing on your screen.

What You Will Learn

This course is organized into six modules, treating five specific realms of physics and their related applications, plus a sixth area devoted to a potpourri of topics:

Module 1 (Lectures 2-6), "Sight and Sound," begins with the technology behind CDs and DVDs, using these devices as a springboard to study light, sound, and other phenomena. You will explore how these principles relate to such topics as rainbows, optical fibers for communications, musical instruments, and laser vision correction.

Module 2 (Lectures 7-12), "Going Places," looks at motion and its connection to modes of transportation such as walking, automobiles, airplanes, and interplanetary probes. This module is based on Newton's laws, generalized to include such topics as fluid motion, conservation of energy, and the dynamics of space flight.

Module 3 (Lectures 13-18), "Plug In, Turn On," looks at the intimate connection between electricity and magnetism that is at the heart of technologies from electric motors and generators to videotapes and credit cards. Electricity and magnetism join to make possible electromagnetic waves, which enable the growing host of wireless technologies.

Module 4 (Lectures 19-24), "From Atom to Computer," starts with the element silicon and builds through progressively larger scales-transistors, logic circuits, microprocessors, motherboards, and peripherals-to create a conceptual picture of how a computer works.

Module 5 (Lectures 25-30), "Fire and Ice," introduces heat with topics ranging from physics in the kitchen to Earth’s climate and how humans may be altering it. Also covered are thermal responses of materials, including the unusual behavior of water in both liquid and solid form. The module ends with the second law of thermodynamics and its implications for human energy use.

Module 6 (Lectures 31-36), "Potpourri," offers a final miscellany of topics in physics: the workings of the space-based Global Positioning System; rotational motion in phenomena from dance to pulsars; lasers and their many uses; nuclear physics and its multifaceted role in our lives; the mechanics of the human body and how physics enables us to explore the body through medical imaging; and the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to you.

From Everyday Examples to Universal Principles

The beauty of this course is that it takes you from the specific to the general. "This is not a standard introductory physics course," says Professor Wolfson. "It’s not a course that's going to lay out a lot of physical principles, and then give you a few minor examples of them. Rather, it's going to focus more directly on the application of those principles in your everyday life."

For example, at the beginning of Module 1 you delve into a mystery that may have long puzzled you: How are music and images encoded in the plastic discs that are CDs and DVDs? As you discover how microscopic pits on a rotating disc are interpreted as ones or zeroes by a laser optical system, Professor Wolfson relates these processes to principles you will encounter later in the course:

* Discs rotate, as do objects from car wheels to planets.
* Discs store information, a role they have in common with magnetic tapes, credit-card strips, semiconductor electronics, phonograph records, and DNA molecules.
* Discs are read with an optical system that involves lasers and the reflection, refraction, and interference of light.
* The stream of information coming off a disc is manipulated by physics-based electronic circuitry. It is then converted into light and sound using a variety of physics principles.

Links

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