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Great Ideas of Classical Physics

Narrated by: Steven Pollock
Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (321 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Classical physics is about how things move, why they move, and how they work. It's about making sense of motion, gravity, light, heat, sound, electricity, and magnetism, and seeing how these phenomena interweave to create the rich tapestry of everyday experience. It is, in short, the hidden order of the universe. And if it sounds complicated to you, Professor Pollock hopes you will think again - because you already know more physics than you think, In this mind-expanding series of 24 lectures, Professor Steven Pollock takes you step by step through the great ideas of classical physics, demonstrating that its landmark concepts - such as Newton's laws of motion - are intuitively understood by anyone who has ever ridden a bike, thrown a ball, slid across ice, or simply picked up an object and set it down.

Created over the course of three centuries by a series of brilliant thinkers, including Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, and James Clerk Maxwell, classical physics is an elegant system of ideas that connect a range of seemingly unrelated phenomena - everything from the acceleration of a car, to the orbit of a planet, to the deflection of a compass needle, to the baking of a cake, to the flow of electricity through the light bulb illuminating these words.

All these - and much more - are linked by the basic principles you will learn in these lectures - presented largely without math. Instead, Professor Pollock relies on metaphor, life experience, ordinary logic, and common sense to present the discoveries, theories, insights, methods, and philosophical points of view at the heart of classical physics.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

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Enthusiastic Professor Captured My Interest

Would you consider the audio edition of Great Ideas of Classical Physics to be better than the print version?

This series of lectures is not available in print.

What other book might you compare Great Ideas of Classical Physics to and why?

This is my first comprehensive survey of classical physics. But, I can compare it to a very good Coursera class I took on the principles of mechanical physics. That course focussed on the way things work. This lecture series puts the discoveries of the principles of motion, fields, thermodynamics, and other areas of basic physics into the context of each discoverer's life and personality, the historical thinking at the time, and the impacts of the discoveries. These contexts enriched my understanding of physics in ways I did not expect. The discovered principles are all the more interesting when seen in their human contexts. I learned that what I thought of as"old fashioned" classical physics is the very same modern physics that takes us into space, to the moon, the planets and beyond. I think that "readers" with more knowledge of physics than I have (and those with less) would equally enjoy this lecture series.

Have you listened to any of Professor Steven Pollock’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I would be happy to listen to him again.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Physics? No.

Any additional comments?

My only wish would be that there were twice as many lectures. I was left hungry for more. Although this series is not meant to leave you filled with mathematical formulae and the "rules" of physics, the professor does refer you to an excellent website with animated details of the physical details. And, I found myself searching the web after every lecture to follow up on his enticing information.

9 people found this helpful

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Only listen to if you are a novice to Physics

What did you like best about Great Ideas of Classical Physics? What did you like least?

This course is a decent overview of the basic ideas behind physics; it covers many of the topics that you would see in the the first two college-level introductory physics classes. However, if you've already taken these classes or know the material, the professor does not add any new or exciting perspectives to the subject. He treats the audience as complete beginners and moves slowly for their sake.

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

Yes, The Great Courses does have many great audiobooks; however, this one was too basic and moved too slowly for my skill level.

Did Professor Steven Pollock do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

N/A

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

6 people found this helpful

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Amazing!!!

If you like physics at all, and want to get a better understanding of fundamental physics this is the 'book' for you. He explains things logically and historically.

The way it's read it sounds like your in his lecture hall, or sitting in your living room, listening him speak to you.

I love his other 'book' on here, about particle physics, but I wish I would have listened to this one first.

Really worth the time and money.

3 people found this helpful

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Enjoy what could be boring.

Good overall on Classical Physics, easy to follow and fit for just about any school age.

2 people found this helpful

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Good overview

Great ideas of Classical Pyshics gives you an overview of the physics that suround us every day. If you are new to physics it is well spent time.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Introduction

Made for people who don't have any back round or experience with science or physics.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved It.

Wish I could afford to study under Prof. Pollock to achieve my degree.
Thank you

1 person found this helpful

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great survey course on classic physics

I used it as a refresher as it is mostly review for me, but I enjoyed it very much.

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Wish I listened to this for HSC Physics

What did you love best about Great Ideas of Classical Physics?

Explains difficult concepts by breaking it down to the fundamentals in an easy way to understand.

1 person found this helpful

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Not my favorite physics lecture. Still good.

What did you love best about Great Ideas of Classical Physics?

It sheds new and renewed light on high school science class. Goes into more detail. I loved learning more about Newton's upbringing and life.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Great Ideas of Classical Physics?

I more enjoyed the ending when he begins to talk more about modern physics. But, that may have more to do with my personal preferences than a review of the lecture overall.

Which scene was your favorite?

It's non-fiction. So, this question doesn't make sense. But, I enjoyed learning about conservation of momentum.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Learn the things you forgot to learn in high school science.

Any additional comments?

It's a good listen. I recommend it if you are interested in classical physics and Newton.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 09-20-15

Fascinating Overview of 300 years of Physics

This course covers about 250 years of physical theory and experiments, starting from Newtonian mechanics and ending with the beginnings of the quantum and relativistic revolutions. It does so in an engaging and insightful way, without concentrating too much on the mathematics, rather looking at simple everyday examples and easy to understand experiments.

The lecturer is clearly very talented at bringing complex ideas down to a level understandable by the non-scientist and he has chosen some of the most interesting scientific ideas to discuss.

I learned a great deal from this course, and the stuff I knew before was definitely getting rusty. My favourite bit was certainly the explanation of Maxwell's equations, and the connection between electromagnetism and light.

This course is extremely enjoyable and I thoroughly recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lucia Ramos
  • 01-31-15

Outstanding series!

Great ideas of classical physics for regular people; it should say.
Short lectures, about half hour each, so they are easy to pause and leave for letter when your brain starts to overload with information.
That being said, the lectures are amazingly well-written, and not matter how much or how little you know about physics, this series will grip you and leave you wanting more.

really, really recommended. I cannot stress this enough, You should give it a listen.

Good performance by Professor S. Pollock as well. Very happy about that

1 person found this helpful

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  • Erik
  • 05-27-19

great lecturer

I am familiar with all these topics in detail, and studied them thoroughly myself, but I downloaded this book after listening to another book of Steven Pollock about particle physics. what a joy it is to listen to this professor. His enthusiasm is addictive. Want me to go back to university again and learn more and more. I am going to read and/or download all his books.

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  • John Mayhew
  • 11-06-18

Excellent as far as it goes

Recommended for those about to work on the mathematics . It really needs an accompanying course to practice the relevant equations. Say a pre-university revision book!

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  • Petrica TARAS
  • 10-07-16

Lovely popularisation of classic concepts

Very nicely presented and inspirational. A revelation for me as I never thought physics can be presented in this way. Don't expect to become a theoretical physicist after this lecture though ... you still need the good old pen and paper and a mountain of practice.

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  • Mike
  • 10-30-18

Great intro

This sets up the framework for classical physics and physics in general. 12 hours is obviously not a comprehensive study of all the areas, or even ever area in classical physics. But if you haven’t got a undergraduate degree in physics or have forgotten most of high school physics then this is an amazing place to start.

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  • Jarryd Murray
  • 01-04-19

Great ability to help grasp concepts

The lecturer had an outstanding ability to explain the concepts of classical physics by linking them to the history and real world experiences and classical experiments. Does not over indulge in the mathematics except where it makes it easier to gain an understanding. Great listen captivating and informative.