1. Frames of Reference - 26 minutes

Tape 3 Time: 0:22:26-0:48:26, black and white

Probably one of the finest teaching films made by the PSSC. By means of a variety of experiments on frames of references moving at constant speed or at constant accelerations, this film demonstrates the distinction between an inertial and non-inertial frame of reference, and the appearance of fictitious forces in a non-inertial frame.

2. Matter Waves - 28 minutes

Tape 5 Time: 0:00:08-0:28:33 Alan Holden and Lester Germer, Bell Telephone Labs.

Dr. Germer presents a modern version of the original experiment which showed the wave behavior of the electron. The student sees electron diffraction patterns on a fluorescent screen. The patterns are understandable in terms of wave behavior; Alan Holden presents an optical analogue showing almost identical patterns. The electron diffraction experiments of G. P. Thomson are described by Holden who also presents brief evidence for the wave behavior of other particles such as neutrons and helium atoms.

3. The Size of Atoms from an Atomic Beam Experiment - 28 minutes

Tape 6 Time: 0:00:10-0:27:46 John King, M. I. T.

In this film Professor King investigates the scattering of an atomic beam of potassium by argon to find out something abou the size of atoms. A series of experiments is performed measuring the loss of intensity of a beam of potassium atoms traveling through argon gas at various pressures. From these data, assuming spherical atoms of potassium and argon, the size of the atoms is determined; and this size is found to be independent of the pressure of the argon.

4. Angular Momentum, a Vector Quantity - 27 minutes

Tape 7 Time: 0:00:10-0:26:55 Aaron Lemonick, Princeton University

This film uses various demonstrations to show that angular momenta add vectorially. The phenomenon of precession is used to indicate the presence of an angular momentum. The angular momenta of three wheels are added so that there is no precession indicating a resultant angular momentum of zero. Professor Lemonick demonstrates that a torque applied to a spinning wheel changes the angular momentum of the wheel and that a constant torque applied perpendicular to the angular momentum of a wheel causes the wheel to precess smoothly.

5. Vibration of Molecules - 12 minutes

Tape 8 Time: 0:00:10-0:11:49 , color

Collaborators: Professor Linus Pauling, and Professor Richard M. Badger, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena

All animation. The film shows the relationship between the structure of a molecule and its vibrational motions. Water, carbon dioxide, and methane are discussed in detail. The forms of the vibrations have been accurately calculated from spectral data. All vibrations have been slowed down by a factor of 10 14 . The effect of molecular collision, or absorption of light, on molecular vibrations is illustrated. Determination of the number of possible vibrations and the analysis of complex vibrations in terms of simple harmonic motions are explained.

6. Franck- Hertz Experiment - 30 minutes

Tape 6 Time: 0:27:46-0:57:50 Byron Youtz, Reed College, An epilogue by James Franck

A stream of electrons is accelerated through mercury vapor, and it is shown that the kinetic energy of the electrons is transferred to the mercury atoms only in discrete packets of energy. The association of the quantum of energy with a line in the spectrum of mercury is established. The experiment retraced in this film was one of the earliest indications of the existence of internal energy states within the atom.

7. Change of Scale - 23 minutes

Tape 3 Time: 0:00:10-0:22:26 Robert Williams, MIT

Demonstrates that change of size necessitates change in structure of objects; uses specially constructed props to emphasize scaling problems, then shows practical application of scale models as used in the construction of harbors, study of ship design and movie-making.

8. Pressure of Light - 23 minutes

Tape 4 Time: 0:16:22-0:39:22 Jerrold R. Zacharias, MIT

Light pressure on a thin foil suspended in a high vacuum sets the foil into oscillation. The film leads up to this by a discussion of the Crookes radiometer and the effect - not light pressure - that causes it to rotate. The role of light pressure in the universe is also briefly discussed.

9. A Million to One - 5 minutes

Tape 1 Time: 0:09:21-0:14:17 E. M. Prucell - Harvard, Prof. Roy Harris - Huberts

A flea pulls a massive dry ice puck in an entertaining demonstration of the exceedingly small force needed to accelerate and keep a nearly frictionless body moving. Includes a short excerpt of Inertia, describing the dry ice puck.

10. Crystals and Their Structures - 22 minutes

Tape 9 Time: 0:00:10-0:21:40 Collaborator: Professor J. Arthur Campbell, Harvey Mudd, College Claremont, California

Crystals have plane faces, sharp edges, sharp melting points, and may cleave easily to give new plane surfaces. Crystals also interact with x-rays to pro-duce well-defined diffraction patterns. Such properties lead us to believe that crystals are composed of regular, repeating arrangements of atoms. The film raises the question of how we actually discover these arrangements. Experiments are then performe in a ripple tank on an unknown crystalline array so that the student sees the principles and measurements by which actual crystal structures are determined.

11. The Ultimate Speed: An Exploration with High Energy Electrons

Tape 8 Time: 0:11:49-0:49:12 William Bertozzi, MIT

The relationship between the kinetic energy of electrons and their speed is investigated for the range of accelerating voltages 0.5 Mev. to 15 Mev. The speed of the electrons is measured by the time-of-flight techniques and the kinetic energy of the electrons is measured by calorimetric means. The results indicate a limiting speed equal to that of light, in agreement with the theory of special relativity.

12. Time Dilation: An Experiment with mu-Mesons - 36 minutes

Tape 9 Time:0:21:40-0:57:13 David H. Frisch, MIT, James H. Smith, University of Illinois

Using the radioactive decay of cosmic ray mu-mesons the dilation of time is shown in a filmed experiment which takes place on top of Mt. Washington, N. H., and at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. Data are taken to determine the time distri-bution of the decays of mu- mesons at rest. The counting rate for mu-mesons with speed of about .99 the speed of light which arrive on top of Mt. Washington is determined, and the number that survive to reach sea level is measured. From the experimental results the conclusion is drawn that the mesons, moving at .99c, keep time at about 1/9th the rate they do when they are at rest. A detailed report and critical analysis of this experiment has been published: Am. J. Phys. 31, 342(1963).

13. Positron- Electron Annihilation - 26 minutes

Tape 5 Time: 0:28:33-0:56:34 Stephan Berko, Brandeis University

The annihilation of positron-electron pairs is demonstrated. This and several other brief demonstrations emphasize the conservation of energy and the trans-formation of matter into radiation: E= MC 2. It is pointed out that in most processes only a small amount of matter is transformed into radiation or vice versa, but in the annihilation process the total rest energy of a positron-electron pair is converted into the energy of photons. A coincidence experiment also shows the conservation of momentum in the process.

14. Uniform Circular Motion - 8 minutes

Tape 1 Time: 0:14:17-0:21:13, black and white

Uniform circular motion is defined and demonstrated. Changes in velocity vector are shown and used to explain why this is accelerated motion. Expression for magnitude of centripetal force is explained in general, and illustrated in connection with a body whirling on a string, a car on a loop-the-loop, gravitational attraction and motion of electrically charged par-ticles in a magnetic field.

15. Doppler Effect - 8 minutes

Tape 2 and Tape 3. Time: 0:29:17-0:37:18, black and white

Explains the factors which determine the pitch of a sound. Waves are shown advancing toward the listener, and the following cases are treated: Source and listener stationary; Source in motion, listener stationary (accompanying the change of wave-length and consequent change of apparent frequency are described in slow motion); Source stationary, listener in motion (shows no change in wavelength occurs, but that there is a change of apparent frequency).

16. Measurement of the Speed of Light - 7 minutes

Tape 4 Time: 0:00:10-0:06:35, black and white

The toothed-wheel method of Fizeau is described in detail, with the aid of a moving light beam. Modification of this method, due to Michelson, is explained by reflecting the light beam from a rotating eight-sided mirror. Motion is slow enough so that the path of light may be understood at all times.

17. Simple Harmonic Motion - 10 minutes

Tape 2 Time; 0:19:12-0:29:17, black and white

Approach is dynamic. A mass if free to move horizontally under action of a spring force. The film introduces Hooke's law. Kinematics associated with the "circle diagram" is then illustrated. The film concludes with a brief consideration of essential geometry, and emphasizes the relationship between simple harmonic acceleration and Hooke's law.

18. Stationary Longitudinal Waves - 9 minutes

Tape 2 Time: 0:09:23-0:19:12, black and white

The treatment of this film follows closely that used in STATIONARY TRANSVERSE WAVES (described below). A string of beads connected by light springs constitutes the medium. Both a pulse and a steady train of waves are shown. The situation at a fixed end and at a free end is discussed. In conclusion the film touches on pipe resonance.

19. Stationary Transverse Waves - 9 minutes

Tape 2 and Tape 3. Time: 0:00:10-0:09:23, black and white

The nature of stationary waves is approached from the standpoint of kinematics. Pulse reflection at the fixed end of a stretched string is studied, including phase change. Conclusions are applied to the reflection of a steady wave-train at a string boundary. Resulting stationary waves are compounded of two oppositely traveling wave-trains. Nodes and anti-nodes are identified and their positions related to the wave length. The film concludes with a consideration of the resonance patterns for a stretched string of limited length.

20. Momentum of Electrons - 10 minute

Tape 4 Time: 0:06:35-0:16:22 Collaborator - John King.

The film demonstrates an experiment in which a beam of electrons pushes on a vane of a torsion pendulum which is enclosed in vacuum tube. Electron beam is pulsed at the natural frequency of the pendulum which gradually increases the amplitude of pendulum oscillation.

21. Apollo II Flight - 26 minutes.

Tape 1 Time: 0:26:34-0:52:34

Official NASA Films An exciting film of the moon flight.

22. Powers of Ten -10 minutes.

Tape 1 Time: 0:00:10-0:09:21

This film shows the size of things from atoms to people to the galaxy. Some people feel this is a fantastic film, others feel it could be lived without.

23. Brattain on Semiconductor Physics - 30 minutes

Tape 7 Time: 0:26:55-0:56:24

In this film, Walter H. Brattain, Nobel Laureate in Physics, presents an introductory lecture on the physics of semiconductors for college students. He demonstrates by experiment such semiconductor properties as thermal EMF, photo EMF, and rectification. He introduces a simple mathematical model to describe the observed properties of semiconductors. The history of the development of semiconductors, the impact of new discoveries and some of the new phenomena are also discussed.

24. You Can't Go Back - 6 minutes

Tape 1 Time: 0:21:13-0:26:34

Scenes (in order) :

  1. The word "Forward" becomes disordered.
  2. The word "Backward" forms spontaneously from disordered red-hots.
  3. A pendulum comes to rest against a lead block.
  4. A stationary pendulum is activated by a lead block.
  5. A wood block slides spontaneously up an inclined plane.
  6. A red ball begins to bounce.
  7. A bowling ball springs spontaneously onto a table.
  8. A colored solution stirred unmixes.
  9. A hot penny cools in a flame until it can be safely hand-held.
  10. A partially melted penny reforms and cools in a flame.
  11. Ice forms spontaneously in warm water.
  12. A nearly burnt evergreen wreath unburns.
  13. An ashed newspaper unburns.

Conservation Laws at Zero G.

Tape 3

Dr. Owen K. Garriott, Skylab onboard scientist, discusses from Skylab and from the classroom back on Earth demonstrations of angular momentum, using as some of the examples astronauts spinning and rotating in space, an ice skater spinning, a cat dropped with zero angular momentum landing on its feet, and a model of Explorer I satellite.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity (Animation)

Tape 3

An extremely early animated film (20's? 30's?). Actually contains some mistakes, but fascinating viewing.


  1. All the items listed under the MOVIE LIST

  2. Tacoma Narrows Bridge (10 minutes)

    Dramatic footage of the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. A visceral example of resonance, although if the students probe too closely on exactly which frequencies are in resonance you may find yourself in trouble.

  3. Toys in Space (60 minutes)

    Space shuttle movies of the physics of various toys--bouncing balls, spinning tops, etc.--in a microgravity environment.

  4. Dr. Brody's NFL (10 minutes)

    Uses sports examples to talk about conservation of momentum and other basic mechanics principles.

  5. Pole Vault Video (5 minutes)

    This is a segment of less than five minutes taken from the "Physics of Sports" videodisc. It includes a number of 3 or 4 second clips of pole vaulters using a fiberglass pole. These can be used in a discussion of converting energy from kinetic to elastic to potential (and back to kinetic in the fall and finally to heat in the landing pit). There is a sketchy narration that can be turned down. Also included is a brief history of the sport that shows early vaulters using unbending metal and wood poles.

Skylab Films

This is a collection of twelve videotapes produced by the American Association of Physics Teachers. Most of the film material is designed to demonstrate the behavior of physical systems in the so-called "zero g" environment. A manual that goes with the videotapes has suggested teaching activities to accompany each one. Each segment is about 2 minutes long. More info (1.2M pdf)--Penn only

  1. The Games Astronauts Play

    Recreational activities on Skylab--paper air planes, dart throwing, weightlifting and balancing. More info (1.1M pdf)--Penn only

  2. Reference Frames

    Fixed and moving cameras showing astronauts in linear motion and rotational motion (running around the stowage ring). More info (680K pdf)--Penn only

  3. Moving Astronauts

    Astronauts rotate, flip, spin, and somersault. More info (440K pdf)--Penn only

  4. Human Mass Measurement

    An astronauts's mass is measured with an oscillating spring-mass system--the mass affects the period.. Astronauts change their mass by eating. More info (2.2M pdf)--Penn only

  5. Acrobatic Astronauts

    Acrobatic body motion in space: tucks, twists, handstands, etc. More info (220K pdf)--Penn only

  6. Human Momenta

    Astronauts start in a variety of linear and angular momentum configurations, and the movement of their center of mass is tracked. More info (1.0M pdf)--Penn only

  7. Gyroscopes

    Gyroscope rotations and translations in zero-g. More info (764K pdf)--Penn only

  8. Collisions

    Collisions of water drops with each other and humans with each other. Then the film is played backwards for a discussion of time reversal. More info (504K pdf)--Penn only

  9. Oscillations

    A spring-mass oscillating system (Wilberforce pendulum) oscillating under different conditions; vibrations of a hemisphere of water or of a drop of water. More info (220K pdf)--Penn only

  10. Liquid Drops

    Experiments with surface adhesion, shapes of rotating drops. More info (268K pdf)--Penn only

  11. Water Bridges

    Water spans the space between two metal rods. Adhesion, surface tension, effects of vibration and rotation. More info (212K pdf)--Penn only

  12. Soap and Water

    More experiments with water drops, water bridges, combinations with soap and air. More info (432K pdf)--Penn only

Richard Feynman: The Character of Physical Law

This series of seven lectures was recorded on video-tape by the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1964. The audiences for whom the lectures were prepared was quite general, so the series of topics can be a valuable contribution to programs for all students, including the aspiring physicist. Professor Feynman is noted for his ability to bring his subject alive to the non-physicist as well as the physics student.

The lectures were given in a consecutive series. In the latter lectures Professor Feynman occasionally mentions or refers to an earlier one; however, the concepts or ideas discussed in each lecture are well developed without these references. Thus, any of these lectures could be profitably used alone.

  1. The Law of Gravitation, an Example of Physical Law

    (55 min)

    There is a rhythm and pattern between the phenomena of nautre which is apparent only to the eye of analysis. These rhythms and patterns are called physical laws. The law of gravitation, an example of physical law, is called the greatest generalization achieved by the human mind, and it is a marvel of nature which can obey such an elegant and simple law. Professor Feynman explains the law of graviation, its history and methods, the character of its discovery and its quality.

  2. The Relationship of Mathematics to Physics

    (57 min)

    Mathematics is a way of going from one set of statements to another. It is useful in physics because we have different ways in which we speak of things, and mathematics permits us to develop consequences, to analyze the situations, and to change the laws in different ways to connect the various statements. Also, by mathematical arguments you can show that it is possible to start from many apparently different starting points and yet come to the same thing.

  3. The Great Conservation Principles

    (56 min)

    To the physicist, a conservation law means that there is a quantity which you can calculate according to a certain rule, and it always come out the same amswer no matter what. The great conservation principles described here are ones that are absolutely accurate--such as the conservation of energy, electric charge, baryons, anglar momentum and strangeness. All the various physical laws obey the same conservation principles.

  4. Symmetry in Physical Law

    (58 min)

    The laws of physics are symmetrical. There are things we can do to the physical laws, or to our way of representing these physical laws, which make no difference and leave eeverything unchanged in its effects. Some of the symmetries discussed are translation in space, translation in time, rotation in space (a fixed rotation), the principle of relativitiy (uniform velocity in a straight line) and others.

  5. The Distinction of Past and Future

    (47 min)

    In all the laws of physics which we have found so far, there does not seem to be any distinction between the past and the future. As a result of examining the physical laws, it is now necessary to add the hypothesis that "in the past the universe was more ordered in the technical sense, than it is today." Phenomena of the world are irreversible.

  6. Probability and Uncertainty--The Quantum Mechanical View of Nature

    (59 min)

    To understand what nature behaves like, one must understand the actual behavior of particles on a small scale for these small particles are part of nature and of a universal character. These small particles behave in their own inimitable way, called a quantum mechanical way. The quantum mechanical theory is then developed and discussed.

  7. Seeking New Laws

    (59 min)

    Professor Feynman gives a unique and fascinating insight into how a theoretical physicist approaches the task of expanding man's knowledge of physics. He sums up with "What is it about nature that makes it possible to guess from one part what the rest is going to do? I think it is because nature has a simplicity and therefore a great beauty."

Lecture Demonstration Lab - Film Loop Collections

These are all old Super-8 film loops, some of them excellent. Check in advance to make sure that that the film look projector is operational.

Relativity: A Series of Computer-Animated Films by Robert Ehrlich 1974

  1. The Speed of Projectiles, Sound and Light

  2. Simultaneity Is Relative

  3. Length Contraction

  4. Time Dilation

  5. The Doppler Effect and the Twin Paradox

  6. World Lines

  7. Coordinate Transformations

Byron Motion Pictures: Ripple Tanks

These loops may in many cases be easier to set up and view than an actual ripple tank.

  1. Reflection of circular waves from various barriers in a ripple tank

  2. Reflections of waves from concave barriers in a ripple tank

  3. Interference of waves in a ripple tank

  4. Multiple slit diffraction of waves in a ripple tank

Ealing Film-Loops on Waves

  1. 1- Circular wave reflection from various barriers

    3 min. 45 sec.
  2. 2- Refraction of waves

    2 min. 45 sec.
  3. 80-235 Barrier penetration by waves

    2 min. 15 sec.
  4. 80-241 Effect of phase differences between sources

    2 min. 30 sec.
  5. 80-242, 80-2421 Single slit diffraction

    3 min. 30 sec.
  6. 80-244 Diffraction and scattering around objects

    3 min. 10 sec.
  7. 80-2017 Scintillation Spectrometry

    3 min. 35 sec.
  8. 80-2090 Michelson Interferometer

    4 min. 45 sec.
  9. 80-2173 Non-recurrent wavefronts

    3 min. 55 sec.
  10. 80-2363, 80-2397 Bragg reflection of waves

    4 min.
  11. 80-2330 Reflection of waves from concave barriers

    4 min.
  12. 80-2355 Barrier penetration by waves

    2 min. 15 sec.
  13. 80-2371 Doppler effect

    3 min. 45 sec.
  14. 80-2389 Formation of shock waves

    3 min. 45 sec.
  15. 80-2405 Interference of waves

    4 min.
  16. 80-2439 Multiple slit diffraction

    3 min. 25 sec.
  17. 80-3155 Collisions in two dimensions

    2 min. 35 sec.
  18. 80-3833 Conservation of energy pole vault

    3 min. 55 sec.
  19. 80-3965 Rutherford scattering

    3 min. 50 sec.
  20. 80-4005 Scattering in one dimension part 1: barriers

    3 min.
  21. 80-4013 Scattering in one dimension part 2: square wells

    2 min. 40 sec.
  22. 80-4021 Scattering in one dimension part 3: edge effects

    4 min.
  23. 1- Scattering in one dimension part 4: momentum space

    4 min.
  24. 80-4047 Free wave packets

    2 min. 40 sec.
  25. 80-4054 Particle in a box

    2 min. 40 sec.
  26. 84-0115 Bubble model of a crystal: structure and boundaries

    2 min. 5 sec.
  27. 84-0124 Bubble model of a crystal: deformation and dislocations

    3 min.

American Association of Physics Teachers Film Loops

  1. Lenz's Law

  2. Hysteresis

  3. Group Velocity

  4. Image Methods in Electrostatics

Kalmia Company Film Loops

  1. Heating, Cooling, and Charles' Law

  2. Temperature, Energy, and Thermal Equilibrium

  3. Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution

EME Film Loops

  1. Mass and Weight in Orbit

  2. Conservation of Angular Momentum

Film Loops of Unknown Origin

(some may be home made)
  1. Liquid drops

  2. Collisions (NASA)

  3. Hysteresis

  4. Group Velocity

  5. The Dynamics of a Suspension Bridge

Copyright 2000 by the University of Pennsylvania Department of Physics and Astronomy. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Last modified by Paul A. Heiney,
, January, 2000