Physics

When Buzz Aldrin joined Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969, one of the first things he did was to try one-footed kangaroo hops. Why? To test out methods for moving around in lunar gravity (which is 1/6th that of Earth’s). Aldrin was experimenting with physics – a discipline that involves the study of matter and forces and how they interact in space and time. The modules contained in our Physics Library explore the properties of light, electromagnetism, gravity, and more.

For centuries, controversy over whether light is made of particles or waves abounded. This module traces the controversy over time, from Isaac Newton's "corpuscle" (particle) theory, which prevailed for centuries, to Thomas Young's groundbreaking double slit experiment, which provided evidence that light traveled in waves.


This module introduces the work of Faraday, Oersted, and James Clerk Maxwell toward an overview of the electromagnetic nature of light and its properties.


All types of energy can cause change or do work. This module provides an introduction to energy in its various forms and states. Potential and kinetic energy are explained and demonstrated. The module describes Joule’s paddlewheel experiment, which shows how one form of energy can be converted into another, and presents the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics.


Isaac Newton's description of gravity was not the first explanation of this phenomenon, nor was it the last. This module explores how Newton built on the work of early astronomers and how his theory was confirmed and built upon by others. Mathematical equations are presented for (1) the Law of Universal Gravitation, (2) the Gravitational Constant, (3) Earth's mass, and (4) the gravitational attraction between two people.


This module introduces the history of wave theories, basic descriptions of waves and wave motion, and the concepts of wave speed and frequency.


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