8.03 Physics III: Vibrations and Waves

Fall 2004

Photo of Prof. Lewin in shadow.
This is a picture of Prof. Lewin, taken by Prof. Lewin. It was the "Astronomy Picture of the Day" (APOD) on September 13, 2004. It was also presented to his 8.03 students as a challenge to obtain extra course credit if they were able to explain this phenomenon. On December 7, Prof. Lewin revealed the physics (and demonstrated it) in his lecture #22. The solution was also revealed by APOD to the many thousands of people who were puzzled by it and who tried to explain it.

Course Highlights

This course features a full set of lecture videos, as well as assignments, exams, and other course materials.

» Download the complete contents of this course.

Course Description

In addition to the traditional topics of mechanical vibrations and waves, coupled oscillators, and electro-magnetic radiation, students will also learn about musical instruments, red sunsets, glories, coronae, rainbows, haloes, X-ray binaries, neutron stars, black holes and big-bang cosmology.

OpenCourseWare presents another version of 8.03 that features a full set of lecture notes and take-home experiments.

OpenCourseWare also presents Professor Lewin's freshman physics course series  8.01 – Newtonian Mechanics - with a complete set of 35 video lectures from the Fall of 1999 and  8.02 - Electricity and Magnetism - with a complete set of 36 video lectures from the Spring of 2002.

Special Features

Technical Requirements

RealOne™ Player software is required to run the .rm files found on this course site.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.

Donate Now


Prof. Walter Lewin

Prof. Wolfgang Ketterle
Prof. Nergis Mavalvala

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week 
1.5 hours / session

Two sessions / week 
1 hour / session