Physics III: Vibrations and Waves

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 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.


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2004



Translated Versions


Cite This Course

Course Features

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.

Also by Walter Lewin


  • Classical Mechanics (8.01)- with a complete set of 35 video lectures from the Fall of 1999
  • Electricity and Magnetism (8.02)- with a complete set of 36 video lectures from the Spring of 2002


  • For The Love Of Physics - Professor of Physics Emeritus Walter Lewin's last MIT lecture, complete with some of his most famous physics demonstrations to celebrate the publication of his new book.
  • Videos featuring Walter Lewin on MIT TechTV

OCW Scholar version: Question_svt logo

Other OCW Versions

OCW has published multiple versions of this subject. Question_OVT logo

Mavalvala, Nergis, Walter Lewin, and Wolfgang Ketterle. 8.03 Physics III: Vibrations and Waves, Fall 2004. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.