Posted by: slartibartifast | May 4, 2010

The Mechanical Universe

Way back in 1985 I had to make video recordings of an off-air broadcast TV show, which was called The Mechanical Universe, twice a week for a Physics professor at the university I worked at to show to his Introductory Physics class. So, I got to watch all 52 parts of this show, necessitated by checking all the episodes for quality/continuity. This is for real, not one of my lame comments. It always amused me that part of my job was watching TV while being paid.

Anyway, we got a Dish Network satellite system about a month ago and I’ve been watching some of the episodes on channel 9411, the NAUTV (Northern Arizona University channel). I had forgotten how truly wonderful the show was, even for being 25 years old.

Dr. David L. Goodstein is the “ghost host” (as he referred to himself in an interview I saw one time) and the programs were made to accompany his Physics 1A and 1B courses at CalTech. The shows have made extensive us of state-of-the-art (then) computer graphics to illustrate many of the lecture topics. Between these animated sections and Dr. Goodstein’s sense of humor and brilliant lecture style I thought it was easily the best instructional shows I’ve ever seen.

Watching some of the episodes on NAUTV has rekindled my admiration for the series.

So, I looked online and found a couple of sources to watch them. GOOGLE Video has many of the shows (although for some reason they’ re in random order when you do  a search for them by show title). The Annenberg site has all of the titles, but they are in a small-screen format, but free.

Over my time as a college student and as a university employee, over 21 years total, I saw a LOT of professors give lectures and Dr. Goodstein is one of the best five I ever saw.

Enjoy…or not.



  1. I watched some of them in my Physics class! Physics is not my strong point.

    • Even so, weren’t they well done and interesting programs?

      I’m such a turbo-nerd I became fan of Dr. David Goodstein, the show’s “ghost host,” on FaceBook.

      Thanks for reading some of my stuff, Mike.

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