Caltech: The Mechanical Universe Series on Learner.org

I promised my cow-orker/friend N that I’d post links for these in my blog for her son, so here they are. (Newly updated for 2018!)

The series is from the year I graduated High School – (1985-1986). It’s college 101 level illustrated Physics, but for precocious kids, it might be interesting. From the era when graphic calculators were just becoming available, this show illustrated basic physics concepts with graphical animations – things well beyond the means of the normal populace. It presents simple history of science as well.

Anyway, I used to watch it in mid-afternoon before homework, when the rest of TV was abjectly boring and full of reruns. I don’t think I saw all 52 episodes, though, so it’s a joy to see it available online.

Very geeky. (Watch out for the synth trumpets in the intro video to each episode.)

So here’s the list of links.

These links used to go to Google Video, which hosted all the episodes, but then they all went to learner.org, which is part of the Annenberg Video Foundation. The format for each link is not great. The videos are low resolution and so grainy if you go full screen, but they’re enough to get the job done. Later, Annenberg was unable to continue to license the videos so those all got broken. I just went looking again for them and found them on YouTube on the caltech channel, where I hope they’ll stay.

3/18/2018 update: For the 2 – 3 folks who come to this page every day for the links, it looks like as of late 2016, caltech actually uploaded these videos to YouTube, which is awesome. I am hoping that for you, the license on YouTube works. If it doesn’t, perhaps you can make do with some access by Proxy or VPN.

The playlist for The Mechanical Universe  on the caltech channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtMmeAjQTXc&list=PL8_xPU5epJddRABXqJ5h5G0dk-XGtA5cZ

It looks pretty comprehensive, and even includes some SIGGRAPH video demonstrations (talking about the use of computer graphics used in the shows). I’m going to take out the broken links to learner.org on this list of episodes (below), and just leave the list so you know the original titles as I encountered them:

  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 01 – Introduction
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 02 – The Law of Falling Bodies
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 03 – Derivatives
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 04 – Inertia
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 05 – Vectors
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 06 – Newton’s Laws
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 07 – Integration
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 08 – The Apple and The Moon
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 09 – Moving in Circles
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 10 – Fundamental Forces
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 11 – Gravity, Electricity, Magnetism
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 12 – The Millikan Experiment
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 13 – Conservation of Energy
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 14 – Potential Energy
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 15 – Conservation of Momentum
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 16 – Harmonic Motion
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 17 – Resonance
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 18 – Waves
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 19 – Angular Momentum
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 20 – Torques and Gyroscopes
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 21 – Kepler’s Three Laws
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 22 – The Kepler Problem
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 23 – Energy and Eccentricity
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 24 – Navigating in Space
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 25 – Kepler to Einstein
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 26 – Harmony of the Spheres
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 27 – Beyond the Mechanical Universe
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 28 – Static Electricity
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 29 – The Electric Field
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 30 – Potential and Capacitance
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 31 – Voltage, Energy and Force
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 32 – The Electric Battery
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 33 – Electric Circuits
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 34 – Magnetism
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 35 – The Magnetic Field
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 36 – Vector Fields and Hydrodynamics
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 37 – Electromagnetic Induction
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 38 – Alternating Current
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 39 – Maxwell’s Equation
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 40 – Optics and Beyond
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 41 – The Michelson-Morley Experiment
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 42 – The Lorentz Transformation
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 43 – Velocity and Time
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 44 – Mass, Momentum and Energy
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 45 – Temperature and Gas Laws
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 46 – Engine of Nature
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 47 – Entropy
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 48 – Low Temperatures
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 49 – The Atom
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 50 – Particles and Waves
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 51 – From Atoms to Quarks
  • Caltech: The Mechanical Universe – 52 – The Quantum Mechanical Universe
Enjoy!

10 thoughts on “Caltech: The Mechanical Universe Series on Learner.org

  1. Dear All,

    I tried to reach the copies on the Google Videos, but I realised that the Episode 18 is missing. Can you reload this episode again to complete the set?

  2. When I graduated high school in 1984, I thought this was so cool and saw some of the first season. I watched this whole series when it was replayed on PBS in the early 1990’s and read both books while attending university. I really learned a lot about mechanics that couple of years and reproduced some of the experiments I saw. Now I have 4 kinds and am going to try and get them to watch this or at least some of it. It was cool to see them watch Cosmos on Netflicks, their little minds are like budding flowers. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Pingback: Twentieth of an Inch | twentiethofaninch

    • AL, it looks like Google Voice/YouTube no longer host the videos publicly, so I’ll write up the alternative here and on the post.

      This didn’t work with me for Chrome, but did for IE.
      1. Go to the Annenberg Learner site for The Mechanical Universe: http://www.learner.org/resources/series42.html
      2. Click the VoD icon to the right of the episode you want to watch
      3. Allow Popups. This is very important. Without that you won’t see the video (and I suspect this is why the video doesn’t work in Chrome)
      4. Enjoy the show!

  4. Hello 🙂

    I recently accidentally stumbled onto this little site after googling around for the mentioned TV-series. As a child I also followed and rather enjoyed it. In fact the series was one of the reasons I fell in love with physics.

    I would love to able to watch the whole series again, unfornately since I don’t live in North America I’m not allowed to view the series.

    I was wondering if any of you here knew of alternative sites where I can view the material, or guide me to webiste where I can buy the series? 🙂

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