8.01x: Classical Mechanics


Covers the basics of Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics, kinetic gas theory and thermodynamics in addition to exploring other real-world phenomena.

About this Course

*Note - This is an Archived course*

This is a past/archived course. At this time, you can only explore this course in a self-paced fashion. Certain features of this course may not be active, but many people enjoy watching the videos and working with the materials. Make sure to check for reruns of this course.

8.01x is an online version of Classical Mechanics, which is the first of MIT's introductory physics courses. The course covers the basic concepts of Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics and kinetic gas theory. A variety of other interesting topics are covered, such as resonance phenomena, musical instruments and astronomical phenomena such as binary stars, neutron stars, black holes, stellar collapse, and supernovae. You will also be given a peek into the intriguing world of quantum mechanics.

The course follows the MIT on-campus class as it was given by the renowned Professor Walter Lewin in the fall of 1999. This includes his video lectures, problem solving sessions, and, of course, his famous in-class demonstrations. Professor Lewin, proclaimed "a Web Star" by The New York Times, has supplemented his lectures by including interactive questions to help students check their understanding during the lectures themselves.

You will complete automatically graded weekly homework problems and exams to test your understanding and to help you master the material. Lectures are interspersed with questions to be answered. There is a moderated forum for student-to-student threaded discussions. While homework deadlines will be strictly enforced, the lowest homework grade will be dropped. Your grade will be based on the interactive questions during the lectures (10%), homework problems (15%), three midterm exams (15% each), and the final exam (30%). Your grade will be as follows: A (more than 85%), B (70-85%), C (60-70%). At least 60% must be obtained to qualify for a certificate.

The book is available on line without charge, but you can also buy a printed copy of the book (publisher Wiley). Since the book is a record of things you will soon forget, Professor Lewin recommends you buy the book if you can afford it.


Lewin's lectures at MIT are legendary. Many have been shown for over six years (starting in 1995) on UWTV in Seattle, reaching an audience of about four million people. For fifteen years (starting in 1983) he was on MIT Cable TV helping freshmen with their weekly homework assignments. His programs were aired 24 hours per day and were frequently watched by upper-class students. Additionally, his 35 lectures on Newtonian Mechanics, 36 lectures on Electricity and Magnetism and 23 lectures on Vibrations and Waves can also be viewed at MIT'S OpenCourseWare, iTunes U, YouTube and Academic Earth. About 5000 people daily from all over the world watch these lectures - that's about two million people per year! Many teachers show them regularly in their classrooms. Bill Gates even wrote Professor Lewin that he has watched all his lectures more than once and he has learned a lot from them. The many responses that Professor Lewin receives daily are quite wonderful and often very moving.

Before your course starts, try the new edX Demo where you can explore the fun, interactive learning environment and virtual labs. Learn more.

Course Staff

  • Walter Lewin

    Professor Lewin got his PhD in Nuclear Physics at the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands in 1965. He joined the Physics faculty at MIT in 1966 and became a pioneer in the new field of X-ray Astronomy. His 105 online lectures are world renowned and watched by about 2 million people annually. Lewin has received five teaching awards. He is the only MIT Professor featured in "The Best 300 Professors" of The Princeton Review. Professor Lewin co-authored with Warren Goldstein the book "For the Love of Physics" (Free Press, Simon & Schuster), which in 2012 has been translated in 9 languages and will be translated in a total of 11 languages. About this book Bill Gates wrote:"For the Love of Physics captures Walter Lewin's extraordinary intellect, passion for physics, and brilliance as a teacher. Hopefully this book will bring more people into the orbit of this extraordinary educator and scientist". Review by Bill Gates of book "For the Love of Physics"

  • Deepto Chakrabarty

    Deepto Chakrabarty is Professor of Physics and Astrophysics Division Head in the Physics Department at MIT. He received an S.B. in Physics at MIT in 1988 and a Ph.D. in Physics at Caltech in 1996. Chakrabarty joined the MIT faculty in 1999 and has taught classes in Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Vibrations and Waves, Quantum Mechanics, and Astrophysics. His research specialty is in high-energy astrophysics and the physics and astrophysics of neutron stars, and he is the author of over 100 research papers. Chakrabarty was awarded the Buechner Teaching Prize in Physics from MIT in 2001 and the Bruno Rossi Prize in High Energy Astrophysics by the American Astronomical Society in 2006. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2011.

  • Isaac Chuang

    Isaac Chuang is a professor of Physics and a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. His research focuses on quantum information and quantum computation. Professor Chuang leads the NSF IGERT on Interdisciplinary Quantum Information Science and Engineering at MIT. He is deeply involved in developing new methods for teaching and learning, as the associate director of MIT's Office of Digital Learning, and as a core developer of the edX platform.

  • Peter Dourmashkin

    Peter Dourmashkin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at MIT. His research interests are in Mathematical Physics, Lie Group and Algebra Representation Theory. He has been part of the development, implementation, and teaching team for Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL). He has developed OCW Scholar Courses, the physics curriculum for a new university, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and is currently working on online learning through MITx and edX.

  • Saif Rayyan

    Saif Rayyan is a lecturer in the Physics Department and the Concourse Program at MIT. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from Virginia Tech before switching his interests to teaching and to physics education research. He moved to MIT as a postdoc working with the RELATE group (Research in Learning, Assessing and Tutoring Effectively). Now, In addition to teaching introductory physics, Saif is working on the development of courses on edX, and trying to find the best practices in using online platforms to help students learn.

  • Samuel Bieri

    Samuel Bieri earned his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne EPFL (Switzerland) in 2008. After a stay at the ETH Zurich, he came to MIT as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2011. Samuel's research interests lie in the physical and mathematical properties of exotic quantum phases of matter.

  • 9 September 2013, 19 weeks
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  • Language: English Gb


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