Professor at Kenyon College

Professor at Kenyon College >

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The Strangest Force
Episode 1 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Begin your exploration of gravity with Isaac Newton and the famous story of the apple. Why was it such a breakthrough to connect a falling apple with the faraway moon? Review the essential characteristics of gravity and learn why small…
Publius Cornelius Scipio
Part of the Series: Famous Romans
It is a March day in 218 B.C., the year that will see the beginning of the Second Punic War. Join the consul P. Cornelius Scipio and his son as they tour the Forum, discussing its statues of heroes from…
Stars in Their Courses—Orbital Mechanics
Episode 7 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Newton was the first to realize that objects could, in theory, be sent into orbit around Earth. Explore how this works in practice, using the ideas of energy and angular momentum to study how satellites, moons, planets, and stars move…
Universal Gravitation
Episode 4 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
See how Newton was able to finish Kepler's revolution by formulating the law of universal gravitation, which says that every object exerts an attractive force on every other object. Also explore Newton's related discovery of the three laws of motion,…
Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime - Understanding Gravity Course
Gravity rules the universe. Without it, everything would dissolve into a gas of randomly interacting atoms. Yet gravity is one of the least understood forces in nature. Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime introduces you to key ideas in gravity…
24 videos
Free Fall and Inertia
Episode 2 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Review three great discoveries by the "grandfather" of gravity research, Galileo Galilei. His most famous experiment may never have happened, but his principle of inertia, law of free fall, and principle of relativity are the basis for everything that comes…
Epictetus
Part of the Series: Famous Romans
Born a slave, he was exiled from Rome for speaking too freely to the emperor. Despite offers to return, he lived on in a backwater, becoming one of the greatest exponents of that vastly influential approach to life known as…
Revolution in the Heavens
Episode 3 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Drawing on ideas and observations of Nicolaus Copernicus and Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler achieved a great insight about gravity by discovering three laws of planetary motion, relating to the mathematics of orbits. The cause of planetary motion, he determined, must…
What Are Tides? Earth and Beyond
Episode 8 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Trace the origin of tides to the simple fact that gravity varies from point to point in space. This leads not just to the rise and fall of the ocean, but to the gradual slowing of Earth's rotation, Saturn's spectacular…
The Million-Body Problem
Episode 11 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Consider the problem of gravitational interactions between millions of bodies, such as the countless stars in a galaxy. Amazingly, mathematics can reveal useful information even in these complicated cases. Discover how the analysis of the motions of galaxies led to…
Which Universe Is Ours?
Episode 21 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Investigate what Einstein called his "greatest mistake"--his rejection of his own theory's prediction that spacetime should be dynamic and evolving. Chart the work of a group of scientists, including Alexander Friedman, Georges Lemaitre, and Edwin Hubble, who advanced the realization…
The Art of Experiment
Episode 5 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Learn how distances in the solar system were first determined. Then chart Henry Cavendish's historic experiment that found the value of Newton's gravitational constant. Cavendish's work allows almost everything in the universe to be weighed. Then see a confirmation of…
Gravity’s Horizon—Anatomy of a Black Hole
Episode 20 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Plunge into the subject of black holes, which are massive objects that have collapsed completely under their own gravity. Learn how black holes distort spacetime and explore the supermassive black holes that lie at the hearts of galaxies. Then ask:…
Escape Velocity, Energy, and Rotation
Episode 6 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Begin the first of several episodes that dig deeper into Newton's laws than Newton himself was able to go. In this episode, apply the key concepts of energy and angular momentum to study how gravity affects motion. As an example,…
Nudge—Perturbations of Orbits
Episode 9 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
For the next three episodes, study the effects of gravity on the motions of more than two bodies. Here, see how even very small orbital changes--small perturbations--are significant. Such effects have revealed the presence of unknown planets, both in our…
The Falling Laboratory
Episode 14 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Einstein focused on gravity in his general theory of relativity. Hear about his "happiest thought"--the realization that a man in free fall perceives gravity as zero. This simple insight resolved a mystery going all the way back to Newton and…
From Forces to Fields
Episode 13 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
For the rest of the course, focus on the revolutionary view of gravitation launched by Albert Einstein. Review new ideas about fields that allowed physics to extend beyond Newtonian mechanics. Then see how Einstein modified Newton's laws and created the…
Spacetime in Zero Gravity
Episode 15 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
In an influential interpretation of relativity, Einstein's former mathematics professor Hermann Minkowski reformulated the theory in terms of four-dimensional geometry, which he called spacetime. Learn how to plot events in this coordinate system in cases where gravity is zero.
Gaius Julius Caesar
Part of the Series: Famous Romans
To Rome's top politicians, Caesar at first seemed nothing more than a political hack of little ability and less character. The challenge of conquering Gaul transformed Caesar and changed world history, laying the foundations for the civilization of France and…
The Force of Creation
Episode 23 of Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime
Use a black hole to test the laws of thermodynamics, taking a deeper look at the capacity of gravity to pull matter together and increase entropy at the same time. Probe Stephen Hawking's most surprising discovery, and then learn that…