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Mechanics: Simple Harmonic Motion and Non-Inertial Reference Frames

Learn how to solve and understand simple harmonic motion in this calculus-based physics class.

Mechanics: Simple Harmonic Motion and Non-Inertial Reference Frames
start date
4 weeks
10-12 hours/ week

About this course

This is the fourth of a series of modules that cover calculus-based mechanics. You will first explore simple harmonic motion through springs and pendulums. Following that lesson, you learn to solve the SHM differential equation and to use the Taylor Formula for small oscillations.

Next, you will learn how to modify Newton’s second law for both linear and rotational non-inertial reference frames. In particular, you will learn about the centrifugal and Coriolis fictitious forces. You will then study applications, such dynamics in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The complete series of modules is based on the MIT subject 8.01: Physics I, required of all MIT undergraduates. The modules are:

To understand the material in this course you should have taken Mechanics: Kinematics and Dynamics, Mechanics: Momentum and Energy, and Mechanics: Rotational Dynamics. Linked above.


Calculus, Mechanics: Kinematics and Dynamics (8.01.1x), Mechanics: Momentum and Energy (8.01.2x), Mechanics: Rotational Dynamics (8.01.3x)

Meet your instructors

  • Deepto Chakrabarty

    Deepto Chakrabarty is Professor of Physics and Astrophysics Division Head in the Physics Department at MIT. He received an S.B. in Physics at MIT in 1988 and a Ph.D. in Physics at Caltech in 1996. Chakrabarty joined the MIT faculty in 1999 and has taught classes in Classical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Vibrations and Waves, Quantum Mechanics, and Astrophysics. His research specialty is in high-energy astrophysics and the physics and astrophysics of neutron stars, and he is the author of over 100 research papers. Chakrabarty was awarded the Buechner Teaching Prize in Physics from MIT in 2001 and the Bruno Rossi Prize in High Energy Astrophysics by the American Astronomical Society in 2006. He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2011.

  • Peter Dourmashkin

    Peter Dourmashkin is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at MIT. His research interests are in Mathematical Physics, Lie Group and Algebra Representation Theory. He has been part of the development, implementation, and teaching team for Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL). He has developed OCW Scholar Courses, the physics curriculum for a new university, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and is currently working on online learning through MITx and edX.

  • Analia Barrantes

    Analia Barrantes is a Physics Lecturer at the Experimental Study Group at MIT and is working in the development of pedagogical content for the freshmen physics courses on edX. Analia holds a master’s in physics from the University of Buenos Aires and a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from MIT.

  • Saif Rayyan

    Saif Rayyan was Assistant Director of Academic Programs at the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL). Saif was born in Amman, Jordan. He holds a BSc in electrical engineering from the University of Jordan and a PhD in Physics from Virginia Tech. He first joined MIT in 2009 as a postdoctoral associate in physics education research, with a focus on implementing and researching pedagogical innovations using digital tools and platforms. Following his postdoctoral work, Saif transitioned into the role of a Digital Learning Scientist in the physics department and MIT Open Learning. Saif was among the first at MIT to lead digital learning initiatives for creating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), leveraging their content and technology to enable blended learning solutions and supporting scaling up of digital learning experiments across MIT.

    Saif held positions of lecturer in the physics department, a member of the instructional team running the TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) classroom. Saif was awarded the MIT Physics Department Buechner Faculty Teaching prize in 2015 and was also the co-recipient of the inaugural MITx Prize for Teaching and Learning with MOOCs for his work on the 8.01x series on Classical Mechanics.

  • Michelle Tomasik

    Michelle Tomasik is a Lecturer in the Department of Physics at MIT where she currently works on developing online classes and assists with physics education research and teaching introductory physics. She received her Ph.D. in physics from MIT working on photovoltaics and density functional theory.

  • George Stephans

    George Stephans (PhD U Pennsylvania) is a Senior Research Scientist in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science and a Senior Lecturer in the Physics Department at MIT. His research work involves collisions of very high energy atomic nuclei. The goal of these studies is to understand the behavior of systems of sub-atomic constituents (quarks and gluons) at extremely high temperatures and densities. His most recent experiments use the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. He has decades of experience teaching physics at MIT, including many different versions of 8.02.

Who can take this course?

Because of U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) restrictions and other U.S. federal regulations, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and the Crimea, Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic regions of Ukraine.