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Welcome to Ph2a Online: the online rendition of the introductory physics course on Vibrations and Waves taught at Caltech during the Fall of 2019!

Vibrations and waves are commonplace in our physical world – whether it be in gas, liquid, or solid, things vibrate, and waves propagate, carrying energy and information. We even have waves in a vacuum; that is how the light from the sun can reach us and power our world. They form the very reason why our world is so dynamic and exciting. There is much commonality in the corresponding descriptions of processes at many scales. So whether it be ideas in quantum mechanics of the subatomic realm, or electrical circuits and machines around you, or powerful astrophysical phenomena like gravitational waves, an understanding of the somewhat abstract notions of a wave or a vibration provides a key foundation for understanding the very heart-and-soul of how Nature works.

Learn about key concepts such as Simple Harmonic Motion, Normal Modes, Wave Propagation, Fourier Decompositions, Interference, Diffraction, and Polarization -- and how they apply to the diverse phenomena in the world around us! The course balances theory and applications, and covers mathematical as well as heuristic aspects.

  • An actual Caltech course -- as raw and real as was taught to Caltech students
  • 10 weeks, self learning course, take it at your own pace
  • Homeworks and Exams, offered with solutions
  • Prerequisites: Basic calculus and linear algebra (matrices), though we often clarify and re-introduce important concepts needed along the way.