MIT Open-couseware Helps Physics Professor Become a Web Star

Open-courseware is helping some MIT professors gain much deserved recognition. While I never took a class from Walter Lewin, I did watch a Nobel laureate (before he won the prize!) ride that same rocket-powered tricycle across the stage of 26-100 (I wrote a little bit about that here in a comment).

At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Walter H. G. Lewin, 71, a physics professor, has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And he has now emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace.

Professor Lewin's videotaped physics lectures, free online on the OpenCourseWare of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have won him devotees across the country and beyond who stuff his e-mail in-box with praise.

"Through your inspiring video lectures i have managed to see just how BEAUTIFUL Physics is, both astounding and simple," a 17-year-old from India e-mailed recently.

Steve Boigon, 62, a florist from San Diego, wrote, "I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes."

Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube's greatest hits. He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple's iTunes Store.

In his lectures at, Professor Lewin beats a student with cat fur to demonstrate electrostatics. Wearing shorts, sandals with socks and a pith helmet -- nerd safari garb -- he fires a cannon loaded with a golf ball at a stuffed monkey wearing a bulletproof vest to demonstrate the trajectories of objects in free fall.

He rides a fire-extinguisher-propelled tricycle across his classroom to show how a rocket lifts off.

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Sunbanks10 years ago
I have one of those thermometers! It's fun to look at :P
chaoscampbell10 years ago
is anyone else having trouble getting the lectures to play?
LinuxH4x0r10 years ago
Who cares about the thermometer he has those cracking ball things!!
Brennn1010 years ago
Its great that professors are getting the recognition that they deserve!
Patrik10 years ago
Here's to great teachers!
Goodhart10 years ago
That is pretty neat. I sure could have used a teacher like that a few years ago. Oh and he has a Galileo thermometer in the foreground there in the picture.