Walt Lewin's best lines
March 3, 2012 4:36 PM   Subscribe

MIT's beloved professor Walter Lewin is famous for his engaging video lectures on classical mechanics. Here are some of his best lines.
posted by starkeffect (20 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
There has got to be a fart joke in here somewhere...
posted by Blasdelb at 4:40 PM on March 3, 2012

I wonder if that's the same skill required to repeatedly hit a button with incredible speed, or if it's somehow related to the mechanics of the chalk itself.

I'd like to see a match between Walter Lewin and Takahashi Meijin.
posted by helicomatic at 4:53 PM on March 3, 2012

posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:58 PM on March 3, 2012

It's all about having the right grip and pressure on the chalk, and letting the chalk "stick-slip" across the board. It's much easier to do with a big stick of chalk.
posted by starkeffect at 4:58 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

But can he freehand a nearly perfect circle?
posted by Quack at 4:59 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

There has got to be a fart joke in here somewhere...

There has got to be a dubstep remix in here somewhere...

Of course, I'll be waiting for the Lewin/Maru mashup.
posted by speicus at 5:03 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's hard to describe, and I'm not very good at it myself, but to expand on starkeffect's answer, the trick is to drive the chalk ahead of your hand, rather than dragging it behind your hand. Think of the way you would hold a match when striking it against the box. That's about the angle. It helps to hold the chalk rather firmly.
posted by d. z. wang at 5:14 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not at all what I was expecting. I wouldn't want to be caught napping in his class; somehow I sense he'd be able to pull off some devastating harmonics with his fingernails.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:50 PM on March 3, 2012

With the spate of recent obituary threads, my heart stopped dead in its track at the words: "MIT's beloved professor Walter Lewin",

Don't do that to me!
posted by drewbage1847 at 5:55 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I grew up with chalkboards in school but have used only whiteboards in my working life (i.e. for the last 20 years). I recently tried a real chalkboard again recently and it was *hard*. So much friction! That varies by direction!

I still want to have one on my home workshop and so I used chalkboard paint. Not at all the same thing.
posted by DU at 6:17 PM on March 3, 2012

As someone who supplemented my own Physics education by watching Lewin's video, I was always mesmerized by his chalkboard abilities. I always wanted to try that dashed line, but never find myself in a room with both a chalkboard and a fatty chalk stick like that.

And seriously, years ago when I was struggling in a physics class at night after work, I happened upon on his videos and it was eye-opening...his teaching style and the ability to watch on my own schedule (when I was most focused) and pause and rewind when needed was exactly what I needed.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 6:25 PM on March 3, 2012

So that's where the podracer noises came from.
posted by TheJoven at 6:45 PM on March 3, 2012

I learned to do those dotted lines from my high school geometry teacher.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:28 PM on March 3, 2012

Seems as good a place as any to tell my one chalk story. I got in a small fender-bender on the way to T.A. orientation the first year of grad school. I walked in 15 minutes late, just as the department head was saying "and that's how you hold the chalk so it doesn't squeak". Foolishly, I thought, 'it can't be that hard ...'.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 7:52 PM on March 3, 2012

If the chalk squeaks you just break it in half, changing the resonant frequency and preventing further squeak.
posted by grog at 8:26 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Didn't they use his chalk drawing noises as foley for the Exorcist?
posted by ducky l'orange at 8:27 PM on March 3, 2012

I miss blackboards.
posted by erniepan at 9:31 PM on March 3, 2012

We moved into a new building two years ago and now I have whiteboards and a Smartboard. As much as I love what the technology can do for me, I really do miss the feeling of chalk on slate.
posted by sciencejock at 5:21 AM on March 4, 2012

I hate chalk. Sometimes I get scheduled in a classroom that still has a chalkboard, and I dread using it. The low-contrast look of chalk; the feel of the chalk; the sound of the chalk; the dusk that gets everywhere; the lack of easy erasability; the possibility of your fingernails scraping the board when the chalk gets small...everything about it is terrible.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 7:05 AM on March 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

I interrupted the Eroica for that fart joke of a video? Agghhhh.

back to UnSanity....
posted by caddis at 8:17 AM on March 4, 2012

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