While physics can be a fascinating subject, some of the concepts it presents aren’t always the easiest for students to understand or for teachers to convey to their classes. That’s where the web can come to the rescue. Here you’ll find a list of some great videos that both clearly demonstrate the major ideas of physics for beginners, as well as provide insights in more complex topics for those who are more familiar with the subject matter, like students in engineering.
These videos will help show the lighter side of physics with amazing experiments, funny raps and explanations of concepts in terms students can understand.
- Musical Tesla Coil: Check out this video to hear the amazing noises the high-voltage sparks emitted by this Tesla coil produce.
- Large Hadron Collider Rap: Have some fun with this great rap video about CERN’s hadron collider.
- How Superconducting Levitation Works: Think levitation is impossible? This video will show you otherwise using magnets.
- Fun with Ferrofluid: See the bizarre ferrofluid in action in this video and what effect magnets have on it.
- Water Droplets in Zero Gravity: This video shows you an experiment done on the International Space Station, letting you see how water acts in a low gravity environment.
- Sound Waves on Fire: You may not be able to see sound waves normally, but in this video they’re more than evident.
- Halo of Water Vapor Appears Around Supersonic F-14 Jet: See what effect breaking the sound barrier has on water condensation through this video.
- Helium Superfluid: What happens when you get helium into a liquid form? Watch this video to find out.
- Boomerang in Zero Gravity: No matter where you go, a boomerang will always come back as this video filmed in space shows.
- Mythbusters Play with Sulfur Hexafluoride: In this short but fun video, you’ll see the effect different gasses have on vocal sounds.
- The Physics of Superheroes: Watch this video to have superheroes explained using real life physics concepts.
- The Physics of Baseball: Get a more concrete and fun explanation of physics concepts by seeing them applying to baseball in this video.
Learn the essentials of understanding physics through these instructional videos for students at all levels. In fact, learning the basics of physics can be beneficial to even those in a non-science-related major, such as those enrolled in college for game design. After all, learning how physics works in the real world can lead to more realistic game design!
- Photons: Corpuscles of Light: You may be wondering what the heck a corpuscle is, but you’ll learn soon enough when you watch this video.
- Fits of Reflection and Transmission – Quantum Behaviour: Check out this video to have quantum physics explained by Richard Feynman.
- Electrons and Their Interactions: Another video lecture given by Feynman helps gives some clarity to the way particles interact with one another.
- Polarization: In this video you’ll learn about both linear and circular polarization of light.
- The Wonders of Electricity and Magnetism:Walter Lewin shows off some fun experiments in order to explain the bigger physical properties behind them.
- Atoms and Heat: Here, Professor Richard A. Mueller of UC Berkeley explains the fundamentals of applying heat to atoms.
- ForceMan: While created with kids in mind, this video is a fun way to learn about the physics of force for all ages.
- Planetary Forces Rap: Make learning about planetary forces a little more fun and easier to remember with this clever rap.
- Speed of Light: This video uses a microwave and some eggs to teach students about the speed of light.
- Classical Mechanics: This video from MIT will give you a good primer in the basics of Newtonian physics.
- Fundamentals of Physics: If you want something a little more in-depth, you can check out this lecture series from Yale to get a crash course in physics fundamentals.
- Vibrations and Waves:Give this lecture series a try to learn about a wide range of topics related to vibrations and waves–from sunsets to musical instruments.
- Electricity and Magnetism:Through these video lectures you’ll build a strong foundation of knowledge in how electricity and magnetism work in the world.
- The Mystery of Light: Starting with the basics, this video will engage you in exploring the special properties of light.
Experiments and Demonstrations
Few things make an abstract concept clearer than seeing how it works in real life. These videos will do just that, making things like light, motion and friction easier to understand.
- Double-Slit Electron Experiment: In this video you’ll see an experiment that demonstrates both the wave and particle properties of light and other quantum particles.
- Galileo’s falling bodies experiment re-created at Pisa: Go back to physics basics in this video that recreates the famous experiment done by Galileo to illustrate ideas of mass, inertia and gravity.
- Millikan Oil Drop Experiment: Learn how Millikan did his famous experiment and understand the meaning of it all by watching this great animated clip.
- Isaac Newton’s Prism Experiment:Light may look white or colorless, but this experiment with prisms will expose its true nature.
- Interference and Diffraction of Light Experiment: Get a look at some of the most amazing properties of light in this high-tech experiment.
- Cavendish’s torsion-bar experiment: Learn how the gravitational constant (or G) was first calculated using a simple experiment in this video.
- Eratosthenes calculates Earth’s circumference: How did a man living in ancient times manage to fairly accurately figure out the circumference of Earth? Watch this video to find out.
- The Inclined Plane: This fun, if a little retro, video shows how distance and force are affected by an inclined plane.
- The Rutherford Experiment: Check out this video to see how the parts of an atom were discovered from Professor Harman at the U of Virginia.
- Foucault Pendulum: Want to see Earth’s rotation in action? Watch this video for more info.
Perfect for the Classroom
If you’re trying to teach students, or if you’re the student yourself, these videos can go a long way towards illustrating concepts in a fun, informative way.
- Atoms: The Space Between: Here you cannot only watch a great video on the structure of atoms, but will get accompanying explanations and class materials as well.
- Light Particles Acting Like Waves: This video attempts to make the behavior of light a little more clear for students (and yourself).
- Quantum Mechanics: Quantum mechanics can be a tough subject to learn, let alone teach, so get some help from this excellent PBS produced video.
- The Elegant Universe: String’s the Thing:Physicist Brian Greene, delve into the nuts, bolts, and outright nuttiness of string theory.
- That’s My Theory!: This game will quiz you or your students on which scientist held which physics theory.
- Gravity: The Odd Man Out:This NOVA video will add on to your understanding of string theory by explaining the strong and weak nuclear forces.
- The Building Blocks of Matter:Jefferson Lab’s research on the building blocks of matter is presented along with a discussion about why you should care.
- Physics Demo Videos: No matter what principle you’re trying to explain in class, you’ll find a great corresponding demo video here.
- The Wonders of Physics: In this video series by Professor Clint Sprott you’ll get a fun and almost circus-like look at physics which can keep even the most physics-phobic students engaged.
Check out these excellent TV programs and series to learn more about physics.
- The Elegant Universe: This three-part mini-series from NOVA explains the physics of the universe.
- Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: Sagan’s series may be old, but much of the data it presents still holds true and it can be a wonderful program to learn about the beauty and the mystery of the Cosmos as we know it.
- Absolute Zero: This episode of NOVA gets chilly, with discussions of Absolute Zero and how to get there.
- Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine: Get a better idea of how flight, even the earliest ones, actually works in this episode of NOVA.
- The Universe: Learn more about our home solar system, galaxy and the universe beyond in this great series.
- The Galactic Center: Uncovering the Pulse of Our Galaxy: Use this video as a chance to teach and learn more about black holes.
- Cosmic Journeys: This television series will help you to learn more about space exploration and what we’ve garnered from it.
- How Long Is A Piece Of String?: It may seem like a simple question but this physics-focused show demonstrates that true length is a much more complex matter.
- Monster of the Milky Way: How much do you know about the black hole that is theorized to lie at the center of our galaxy? This video is a great primer on the subject.
These documentaries address some of the major questions in physics and entertain while they educate.
- The Quantum Revolution: In this video, physicist Michio Kaku explores where physics may be headed in the coming decades.
- Cold Fusion: Fire from Water: Through this movie you can learn about the potential of this source of energy.
- What is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? – Chad Orzel: This short film will fill you in on quantum mechanics and Einstein’s surprising dislike for the subject.
- ATOM: Nuclear physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili explores the history, present and future of the atom in this mini-series.
- Exploring Einstein: Life of a Genius: Watch this video to learn more about the life and work of one of the greatest thinkers of our time.
- The Atom Smashers:This film follows the scientists at Fermilab for a little over a year as they hunt for the mysterious and elusive Higgs boson particle.
- Stephen Hawking and the Theory of Everything: Take a look at this short film to better understand the work of famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking.
- Time Trip: Those intrigued by the idea of time travel will love this film that takes a look at the sometimes zany but always scientifically rooted attempts at discovering how to travel through time.
- The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: Filmed in 1981, this film follows Richard Feynman as he talks about his life, his work and physics in general.
- The Secret Life of Chaos: In this video, you’ll learn more about the real Chaos Theory that most people only know from a reference in the movie Jurassic Park.
Explaining and Illustrating Concepts
These lectures and videos focus on explaining or elaborating on more specific concepts in physics, both at a basic and more advanced level.
- Particles, Protons and Quarks: Leonard Susskind gives the first lecture of a three-quarter sequence of courses that will explore the new revolutions in particle physics.
- Monsters, Dwarfs and Everything In-Between: Astronomer Sally Baliunas talks about the ways in which physics enables scientists to study the wide range of stars in the universe in this video.
- The Birth and Death of Stars: In this video, Walter Lewin gives an excellent and easily understood lecture on where stars come from and where they go when they die.
- The Origin of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity: Try out this lecture where theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek shares his expertise on the origins of mass.
- String Theory, Black Holes and the Fundamental Laws of Nature: If you’re looking for a great overview of physics topics, this lecture from Andrew Strominger at Harvard is a treat.
- Elliptical Orbits: In this video from a course on classical mechanics, you’ll learn the basics of elliptical orbits and the laws of motion.
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics and Entropy: Check out this lecture for an in-depth explanation of entropy that is perhaps best suited for more advanced physics students.
- Torque: Take a closer look at some of Newton’s work in this excerpt from a course given at Yale.
- The Physical World: Explore the world around you using physics with a little help from this free iTunesU video.
- Cosmology | Lecture 1: Stanford’s Professor Susskind expands on the basics of entropy and asks some tough questions about how it’s applied to the study of the universe.
- Quantum gravity in three dimensions: Get an ivy league discussion of quantum gravity through this video.
Keep up with new work that’s being done in physics through these inspiring lectures.
- Lisa Randall: String Theory and Multiple Dimensions: Lisa Randall, a professor at Harvard, discusses the possibility of multiple dimensions in space in this incredibly interesting lecture.
- Frank Wilczek: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces: Hear from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek as he discusses his life and his work in this video.
- New Queries: See where physics is headed in the coming decades in this video.
- A New Kind of Science: Stephan Wolfram talks about the exciting prospects for using computers to map out our universe in this video.
- John Ochsendorf: Redesigning Communities and Carbon Neutrality: Learn more about how science can be applied to technologies that help the world in this lecture.
- X-rays from comets: a surprising discovery: Learn about a discovery that shocked scientists, that comets actually emit X-rays, in this great video.
- The Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy: Check out this video to learn about the research that’s being done about the black hole that scientists think lies at the heart of our own Milky Way.
- Loop Quantum Gravity: In this lecture by Carlo Rovelli you’ll learn more about this interesting and engaging theory devised by the speaker himself.
- Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement Lessons Learned: NASA’s platform for capturing the lessons of the space shuttle program, including interviews with the transition team and short biographical films on four shuttles.
- Bose-Einstein Condensates: The Coldest Matter in the Universe: Learn about how theory led to discovery and a whole new way of looking at matter in this lecture.
These lectures capture scholars, thinkers, and the world’s greatest physicists as they discuss a wide variety of topics.
- Michio Kaku: Physics Of The Future: Only a few centuries ago, many of the things we use everyday were seen as impossibilities of science. This video lecture discusses how, in the future, things like X-ray vision may become less of a science fiction and more of a reality.
- 20th Century Physics: In this lecture you’ll learn more about the evolution of science and religion.
- A Universe from Nothing: Through this lecture you’ll hear from Lawrence Krauss on where our universe came from and where it will end up.
- Observing the Birth of the Universe: Learn more about the Big Bang in this Princeton lecture given by Professor Lyman Page.
- Who Needs Physics?: Why bother learning physics? This lecture explains how understanding physics could help us learn about the true nature of the universe.
- What is the simplest quantum field theory?: If you want to know more about this topic, then the scientists giving this talk at CERN are the best people to learn from.
- The Universe is a Strange Place: Get inspired by the beauty, paradox and, yes, sometimes strangeness of our universe in this talk from Frank Wilczek.
- Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe: In this TED lecture, Professor Hawking asks some of the most important and nagging questions about our universe, including where it all began and whether or not we are alone in the universe.
- Challenge in Astrophysics: Physicist Sarah Bridle talks about the new work being done using gravity to map out the universe and the challenges that will still test scientists in the coming years.
Thirty years ago today, the longest strike in the history of the Writers Guild of America began, and lasted a full 155 days, affecting everything from MacGyver to Tim Burton's Batman. Writers strikes have a major impact on TV and film production. Depending on the strike’s length, dozens of film and TV projects can be suspended, delayed, or even canceled, and rebounding when a strike is over isn’t exactly easy, either. (Many people have cited the 1988 strike as part of the reason for the cancellations of both Moonlighting and Kate & Allie.)
Numerous TV series have had to return from strike to a kind of creative reboot, from rewriting single episodes to devising entirely new finales. Here are eight of them.
1. BREAKING BAD
An enduring legend about Breaking Badsprung up around the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike. According to that version of events, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) was originally set to be killed off by the show’s writers, but when the strike occurred and forced the show to cut its first season from nine to seven episodes, some hard thinking about the show’s structure led to the decision to keep Pinkman around. It turns out that’s only partially true, as creator Vince Gilligan has since noted that he’d decided not to let Paul go by the second episode of the show. The strike did fundamentally alter the show’s overall plot progression, though.
Those final two episodes in season one would have originally given us two fast-paced hours in which Walter White (Bryan Cranston) would have very quickly become the drug kingpin known as Heisenberg. With the strike standing in the way of that, Gilligan and company threw those episodes out and took a more careful approach to bringing out Heisenberg. That meant a slower pace, but an awesome three-episode arc to kick off the second season.
2. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
The 1988 Writers Guild of America strike was the longest in the organization’s history, and its long run cut into the production of a number of series, among them the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As a result of the strike’s duration, the season order was shortened from 26 episodes to 22, and with a shorter production window, the show went looking for script sources beyond the standard writers room. As a result, the season premiere episode “The Child” was adapted from a script originally written for the aborted Star Trek: Phase II TV series in the late 1970s. Producers also began mining the “slush pile” of submitted spec scripts from outside writers and found “The Measure of a Man,” by attorney-turned-writer Melinda M. Snodgrass. The script became the ninth episode of the season, and Snodgrass was hired as the show’s story editor.
After starting off red hot with huge ratings and critical acclaim, the second season of the comic book-inspired NBC series Heroes suffered a ratings decline and attacks from fans due to new characters that took time away from the old ones, a time travel storyline that seemed to drag on too long, and romances that pulled attention way from the show’s super-powered action. It got so bad that creator Tim Kring admitted mistakes in an Entertainment Weekly interview. But the writers strike offered Kring and company a chance to rethink and restructure.
The strike limited the show’s second season to just 11 episodes, and sensing that a change needed to come, Kring reshot the ending of that season’s eventual finale, ”Powerless,” in order to scrap a planned plague storyline that would have made up season two’s second half. The planned fourth “volume” of the series, “Villains,” became the third, and the show carried on for two more seasons.
4. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
The hit sci-fi series only had one episode of its final “Season 4.5” run completed when the 2007-08 strike hit, and the situation felt so dire at the time that the cast was convinced during filming that said episode—“Sometimes A Great Notion”—would be the show’s last. The series did return to produce 10 more hours to end its run, and, like Heroes, the strike actually gave creator Ronald D. Moore a chance to rethink the planned ending of the show.
“There was a different ending that we had, it was all about Ellen aboard the Colony,” Moore told io9. “She was sort of turned by Cavil, because she found out that Tigh had impregnated Caprica Six, and that deeply embittered her. And she sort of became dedicated to the idea of destroying Galactica and the fleet out of revenge. And [she and Cavil] got Hera, and then the final confrontation became very personalized between Tigh versus Ellen, and should they forgive.”
“That was the story, generally speaking. We didn't have a lot more than just what I spun out to you, when the writer's strike hit. Over the course of the writer's strike, I rethought about it and thought, ‘That's not going to do it. It's not epic enough. It's not interesting enough.’ That's when we decided to start over, and reinvent the last arc of the show.”
Moore and his writers ultimately devised a different series finale, featuring the daring rescue of Hera Agathon and the discovery of our prehistoric Earth.
5. PUSHING DAISIES
When it premiered in the fall of 2007, Bryan Fuller’s inventive fantasy series was hailed as one of the most original new shows on TV, and developed a rabid fan base eager to learn more about the love story between the Pie Maker (Lee Pace) and the Dead Girl (Anna Friel). Initial enthusiasm for the series led to a full season order in October 2007, just weeks before a writers strike was declared. This meant that the series had to halt production with only nine of its 22 ordered episodes completed. Fuller rewrote episode nine to serve as a season finale, leaving lots of loose ends to entice viewers back. It worked. Pushing Daisies got a second season, but unfortunately didn’t get a third.
The 2007-08 strike interrupted production of the NBC medical sitcom, leaving it hanging in the midst of what was, at the time, expected to be its final season. Creator Bill Lawrence was offered the chance to film an alternate final episode to serve as a series finale should the strike limit the seventh season, but Lawrence declined, hoping he would eventually get to do things his way. When the strike ended, the future of Scrubs was still uncertain. Season seven ended at just 11 episodes, but the show continued to shoot episodes for season eight even as it no longer officially had a network. Ultimately, ABC picked up the series for an eighth season in the spring of 2008, and Scrubs finished its run on that network after a ninth season featuring new lead characters was also produced.
7. 30 ROCK
Tina Fey’s Emmy-winning comedy shut down production during the 2007-08 strike, but the biggest creative consequence of that break wasn’t felt until 2010. While the show was shut down in early 2008, the cast performed a live episode as a benefit at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. When the strike ended and production resumed, creator Tina Fey and co-showrunner Robert Carlock began having serious discussions with NBC about a live episode broadcast. Though it was originally planned for season four, the episode was rescheduled for season five. Titled “Live Show,” it was finally performed (twice, once for the east coast and once for the west) on October 14, 2010.
8. DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the musical webseries from Joss Whedon, wasn’t so much altered by the 2007-08 strike as it was born out of it. Whedon conceived the series, which he calls his “midlife crisis,” during the strike, and actually first mentioned it to co-star Felicia Day on the WGA picket line.
“I asked if you’d seen The Guild. You didn’t have to say anything! But you said, ‘Oh yeah, I saw it and loved it,'” Day recalled in 2015. “You said ‘I’m actually working on a supervillain musical’ and I pooped myself. Later I got an email that was just, ‘Can you sing?’ Signed, ‘J.’ Then I pooped again.”
Whedon financed the series himself, and it was produced in just five months. Today, it remains an early example of the reach and profitability of web-distributed programming.