LP: 8.01x Classical Mechanics, Week 1

As I’ve explained in my previous post, I decided to take an MIT course for my Learning Project, CS-Harvard.

Week 1 of Professor Lewin’s Classical Mechanics course was very interesting, to say the least.

The first lecture involved studying about Units, Dimensions, and Scaling Arguments. The very start proved to make a point that this is going to be one fun of a course: minutes into the lecture, we see Professor Lewin hauling a huge Elephant femur, it being compared to femurs of other animals. The sight of a 70±10[1] aged professor carrying an animal bone about half of his size was awe-inspring, second only to Sir Malan’s book-ripping introduction.

The second lecture was an Introduction to Kinematics, introducing basic concepts such as velocity and acceleration, and most of this is one-dimensional.

The third lecture, which was about Vectors, was pretty interesting. A vector’s magnitude, dot products, vector products, ballistics, were among of the many things brought to attention.

The lecture ended with a quite interesting experiment – a missile in movement throwing a ball and catching it back -showing that the decomposed vectors were independent of one another. It was pretty novel seeing a ball zipping through the air in a classroom, and I invite you to watch it for yourself (video found at the bottom).

I was caught a bit off guard by the Homework though, because it required calculus[2] to solve! While the course lists Single-Variable Calculus as a co-requisite, I did not expect the course to require it so early in the course (it’s the very first Homework!). Anyway, I simply browsed the internet for basic Calculus concepts, enough to get away with the homework, and I’m proud to say to have been able to get a solid 86 points for a 100%!

Week 1 was taken in one day, to stay in schedule for CS-Harvard.

^ Because any measurement without knowledge of the uncertainties is meaningless!
^ Unlike Scott Young who took the MIT Challenge (here for more information) I have not yet graduated from College by the time I took the Challenge. Hell, I’ve yet to go to college! This means I do not have previous calculus experience.

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