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Modern Physics: Classical Mechanics (Fall 2011)

By Leonard Susskind

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Our exploration of the theoretical underpinnings of modern physics begins with classical mechanics, the mathematical physics worked out by Isaac Newton (1642–1727) and later by Joseph Lagrange (1736–1813) and William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865). We will start by taking a close look at Newtonian mechanics and the integral concepts of force, momentum, and gravity. Later, when we turn our attention to Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, we will delve into potential and kinetic energy, the principle of least action, and chaos theory. This course marks the beginning of a six-quarter sequence of courses that will explore the essential theoretical foundations of modern physics. The topics covered will include classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, the general and special theories of relativity, electromagnetism, cosmology, and black holes. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well. Both individually and collectively they will let students attain the “theoretical minimum” for thinking intelligently about modern physics. This course was presented by Stanford's Continuing Studies program.

Customer Reviews

Outstanding Introduction to a beautiful subject

Leonard Susskind's fall 2011 course stands out by covering the essential core concepts in classical mechanics in a clear and widely accessible manner. His new Modern Physics series continues to improve as he revisits topics he has previously covered in past years. It also seems that some of the students have taken his lecture series before and are now asking generally sharper and more insightful questions. His responses to these more pointed questions adds significantly to the overall learning experience.