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This freshman-level course is the second semester of introductory physics. The focus is on electricity and magnetism, including electric fields, magnetic fields, electromagnetic forces, conductors and dielectrics, electromagnetic waves, and the nature of light.

Electromagnetic forces quite literally dominate our everyday experience. The material object presenting this text does not fall through the floor to the center of the earth because it is floating on (and held together by) electrostatic force fields. However, we are unaware of this in a visceral way, in large part because electromagnetic forces are so enormously strong, 1040 times stronger than gravity.

Because of the strength of electromagnetic forces, any small imbalance in net electric charge gives rise to enormous forces that act to try to erase that imbalance. Thus in our everyday experience, matter is by and large electrically neutral, and our direct experience with electromagnetic phenomena is disguised by many subtleties associated with that neutrality. This is very unlike our direct experience with gravitational forces, which is straightforward and unambiguous.

25 lectures;

Guided Activities, Self-Assessment, Concept Questions, Challenge Problems.




Walter H. G. Lewin, Ph.D. (born January 29, 1936) is a Dutch astrophysicist and professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Born in the Hague Netherlands, professor Lewin achieved his PhD in nuclear physics in 1965 at the Delft University of Technology and came to MIT in 1966. Lewin's major contributions in astrophysics include the discovery of the first slowly rotating neutron star through all-sky balloon surveys, research in X-ray detection in investigations through satellites and observatories worldwide.


Peter Dourmashkin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Associate Director of the Experimental Study Group at MIT. He has been actively involved in undergraduate education at MIT since 1984, and has presented results of the TEAL Project at the annual meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Physical Society.




Creative Commons License

Electricity and magnetism by Walter Lewin and Peter Dourmashkin is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Based on work at MIT Open CourseWare.

Course content

  • Electric Fields: Introduction to Electric Fields

  • Math Review, Fields

  • Electric Fields and Discrete Charge Distributions

  • Electric Fields and Continuous Charge Distributions

  • Gauss's Law

  • Electric Potential:Discrete & Continuous Distributions of Charge

  • Equipotential Lines and Electric Fields

  • Gauss's Law and Configuration Energy

  • Capacitors: Conductors and Insulators, Conductors as Shields

  • Capacitance and Capacitors, Energy Stored in Capacitors

  • Capacitors and Dielectrics

  • Circuits: Current, Current Density, Resistance, and Ohm's Law

  • Batteries and Circuit Elements

  • DC Circuits

  • DC Circuits with Capacitors

  • Magnetic Fields and Forces: Magnetic Field

  • Magnetic Forces

  • Magnetic Dipoles

  • Creating Magnetic Fields:Biot-Savart Law

  • Ampere's Law

  • Faraday's Law: Faraday's Law

  • Inductance and Magnetic Energy

  • RL Circuits

  • Oscillating Circuits: Undriven RLC Circuits

  • Driven RLC Circuits

  • Maxwell's Equations: The Displacement Current and Maxwell's Equations

  • Poynting Vector and Energy Flow in a Capacitor

  • Electromagnetic Waves: Maxwell's Equations and Electromagnetic Waves

  • Energy and Momentum in Electromagnetic Waves

  • Generating EM Waves, Dipole Radiation and Polarization

  • Nature of Light: Interference

  • Diffraction

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