Revolution in the Heavens

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Part II: Physics in Space - Orbital Motion and Re-entry
Part of the Series: Physics of Spaceflight Series
Concepts Covered:
  • Newton's Laws of Motion
  • Circular Motion
  • Rotational Dynamics
  • Heat
  • Conservation of Energy
This program focuses on the physics of orbital motion and re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. The program discusses the dynamics of orbital motion and the apparent weightlessness experienced while in orbit. Kepler's 3 laws…
Universal Gravitation
See how Newton was able to finish Kepler's revolution by formulating the law of universal gravitation, which says that every object exerts an attractive force on every other object. Also explore Newton's related discovery of the three laws of motion, which underlie the science of mechanics.
SETI: Astronomy as a Contact Sport - with Jill Tarter of The Center for SETI Research
Jill Tarter is a passionate astronomer who has long guided SETI's research program of searching for alien signals. Despite having heard nothing so far, Jill is unbowed, enthusiastically telling us how SETI uses modern technology to listen carefully to the heavens with increasingly greater efficiency.
The First Decades of Aviation
Part of the Series: The Amazing World of Aviation
The first decades of aviation brought both triumph and tragedy. To fly an early airplane required skill, courage and daring. A new breed of adventurers looked to the heavens for their challenges, and thrilled audiences around the world. The advent of the movie camera meant that their exploits could be…
Spacetime Tells Matter How to Move
See how gravity affects Minkowski's spacetime geometry, discovering that motion in a gravitational field follows the straightest path in curved spacetime. The curvature in spacetime is not caused by gravity; it is gravity. This startling idea is the essence of Einstein's general theory of relativity.
How to Find an Exoplanet
Given the extreme faintness of a planet relative to the star it orbits, how can astronomers possibly find it? Learn about direct and indirect methods of detection. As an example of the indirect method, discover why a planet causes a star's position to change, providing a strategy for locating exoplanets…
The Constellations and Their Stars
Episode 1 of Our Night Sky Series
Begin your study of the night sky by investigating the origin of the constellations: the traditional groupings of stars that mostly date to antiquity. The well-known constellation Orion illustrates the fascinating mix of beauty, mythology, and scientific knowledge to be found wherever you look in the heavens.
The Search for Exoplanets: What Astronomers Know
As recently as 1990, it seemed plausible that the solar system was a unique phenomenon in our galaxy. Thanks to advances in technology and clever new uses of existing data, now we know that planetary systems and possibly even a new Earth can be found throughout galaxies near and far.…
The Next Revolution
Survey the greatest unsolved problem in theoretical physics: the search for a quantum theory of gravity. Examine string theory, loop quantum gravity, and also entropic gravity, which suggests a revolutionary link with thermodynamics. Close the course with a deepened appreciation for the connection between everyday features of gravity and the…
Free Fall and Inertia
Review three great discoveries by the "grandfather" of gravity research, Galileo Galilei. His most famous experiment may never have happened, but his principle of inertia, law of free fall, and principle of relativity are the basis for everything that comes later in the science of gravity--including key breakthroughs by Einstein.
Nudge—Perturbations of Orbits
For the next three episodes, study the effects of gravity on the motions of more than two bodies. Here, see how even very small orbital changes--small perturbations--are significant. Such effects have revealed the presence of unknown planets, both in our own solar system and around other stars.
Escape Velocity, Energy, and Rotation
Begin the first of several episodes that dig deeper into Newton's laws than Newton himself was able to go. In this episode, apply the key concepts of energy and angular momentum to study how gravity affects motion. As an example, use simple algebra to calculate the escape velocity from Earth.