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. Check through the list to see if there’s something that can facilitate your teaching or learning process.
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: Physics professor Walter Lewin explains polarization, rainbows, smoke and sunsets in this video that even elementary students can understand and appreciate.
- The Wonders of Electricity and Magnetism:Walter Lewin is back in this video, showing 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 decomposition of sunlight with a prism: 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.
- Strings to the Rescue: Through this video, you’ll be able to better teach and learn about string theory and Einstein’s late-in-life work.
- 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.
- Beautiful Physics: This video series from Teachers.tv offers fun, inspiring ways to look at fundamental physics concepts.
- The Building Blocks of Matter: Try out this video for a great explanation of what the Large Hadron Collider is and what it is designed to figure out.
- 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.
- Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: 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.
- Wired Science: You’ll find all kinds of physics and general science videos in this helpful series.
- Milestones in Science and Engineering: This series of videos will explain things like manned flight, the phonograph, cathode-ray tubes and more.
- 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.
- Uncertainty Principle: 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: In this question and answer session, you’ll hear Professor Jerome Friedman talk about the atom during a tour of the MIT Museum.
- 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.
- Spooky Actions at a Distance: Spooky actions aren’t spooky in the way we usually understand the term to mean, as you’ll learn from watching this informative lecture at Princeton.
- 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.
- The Second Law and Cosomology: This video 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.
- Matchsticks, Scramjets, and Black Holes: Numerical Simulation Faces Reality: Elaine Oran gives listeners and insight into the gap that sometimes occurs between what should happen and what does happen when it comes to science.
- 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.
- Transitioning from the Space Shuttle to the Constellation System: William Gerstenmaier has worked at NASA for over 30 years and shares his thoughts on addressing problems and issues with space travel that have cropped up in recent years.
- 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 Impossible: 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 time travel 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.
- Forty years of high energy string collisions: Hear from scientists at CERN on the history and future of string theory physics in this discussion video.
- 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.