Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Classical Mechanics

via Brilliant


Here we'll establish the bedrock principles of physics and use them to reveal matter in motion; from drones and rockets to skyscrapers and blinking fireflies.

By the end, you'll develop a rigorous approach to describing the natural world and you'll be ready to take on new challenges in quantum mechanics and special relativity.


  • Introduction: A quick look at what classical mechanics can do for you.
    • Formula One Racing: Want to design the fastest car? You'll need classical mechanics for that.
    • Cellular Automaton: Complex behavior can emerge from very simple rules.
    • Huygens' Clock Puzzle: Get hands-on with interactive pendulums and crack this classic puzzle.
  • Kinematics: A common language for everything that moves.
    • Kinematics in the City: Navigate the difference between acceleration and velocity on the streets of the city.
    • The Kinematic Equations: Derive the most useful kinematic relationships for an accelerating object.
    • Angular Kinematics: Try your kinematics skills at the racetrack.
    • Projectile Motion: Can you help Robin Hood prove he's the best shot in Nottinghamshire?
    • Gene Expression Problem: Can you predict the number of proteins manufactured in a cell?
  • Newton's Laws: Three simple laws govern nearly everything you see.
    • What are Forces?: Ride on a park swing to learn the basics of forces.
    • The 3 Laws of Motion: Get to know Newton's laws of motion at hockey practice.
    • Weight and Scales: Use Newton's laws to help a fly escape from a sealed jar.
    • Pressure: Take a deep dive to learn about forces in fluids.
    • Buoyancy: How high can you fly in a hot-air balloon?
    • Drag Forces: Watch out! The air is stealing your energy.
    • Banked Curve Problem: How fast can you take a turn on a banked road?
  • Energy: It's the currency of the Universe.
    • Exploring Energy: Find out how energy transforms on the ski slopes.
    • Work-Energy Theorem: Uncover the work-energy theorem by taking an elephant for a sleigh ride.
    • Conservation of Energy: Energy can never be created or destroyed, only changed.
    • Power: How much energy do your muscles consume?
    • Elastic Energy: Can an inflated balloon store energy?
    • Potential Energy: How much work can be done by a compressed spring?
    • Drone Battery Problem: Find the right sized battery for your quadcopter.
  • Momentum: Solve some harder problems with a different angle on Newton's Laws.
    • Momentum in the Office: Annoy your coworkers by building a jet engine on your office chair.
    • Impulse-Momentum Theorem: Save your knees when you jump from trees.
    • Rocket Equation: How much fuel does a rocket need to get to space?
    • Ideal Gas Law: How many gas molecules are inside a basketball?
    • Photon Problem: Even particles of light have momentum and energy.
  • Reference Frames: To make measurements, first you'll need a coordinate system.
    • Relativity on the Train: Are you moving or am I?
    • Center of Mass Frame: Bumper car collisions are simple in this reference frame.
    • Rotating Frames: A rotating reference frame is necessary when you're driving around in circles.
    • Einstein's Theory of Relativity: The speed of light is constant in any reference frame.
  • Statics: The science of standing still.
    • Tower of Cards: Where is the weakest point in a tower of cards?
    • Irregular Towers: Derive the force on any single block in a stack.
    • Static Equilibrium: Two conditions must be satisfied for any building to stand tall.
    • Rope Statics: When you're scaling a cliff, it takes a lot of strength to stay still.
    • Body Statics: Which yoga poses require the most strength?
    • Plank Statics: Balance torque and internal forces while walking the plank.
  • Springs: In a mostly stable world, simple harmonic oscillations are the norm.
    • Energy Landscapes: A golf ball rolling in a valley behaves just like a spring.
    • Elastic Forces: Much of modern physics stems from a single force law.
    • Simple Harmonic Oscillators: A Florida orange moving around a circle is the perfect oscillator.
    • Pendulums: How can a pendulum clock keep good time?
    • Large-Angle Pendulum: Learn the basics of perturbation theory to tackle a more challenging pendulum.
  • Oscillations: You see new behaviors when you link oscillators together.
    • Vibrations in Molecules: The fingerprint of every molecule can be found in its vibrations.
    • Coupled Oscillations: Connect two pendulums by a spring, and let them talk.
    • Strings: Every possible vibration can be built up from simpler patterns.
    • Loaded Strings: Make waves by coupling oscillators in a line.
    • Firefly Problem: How do the flashes of fireflies in the night synchronize?
  • General Considerations: Where do we go from here?
    • Natural Units: Nature provides its own meter sticks, and it hints at the great unknown.
    • Lagrangian Mechanics: There's another way to understand all of mechanics, and it's awesome.


Start your review of Classical Mechanics

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.