Physics Flashlets

Michael Fowler


This is a collection of Flash animations to make learning physics easier!  They were created by myself and my students Jacquie Hui Wan Ching and Heather Welch, and Michael Timmins and Aris Stylianopoulos, in the summer of 2003.  Some of these flashlets are not quite perfect yet, but we’re working on it.  They do of course require you to have a Flash player on your machine. The player can be downloaded for free from .


Pythagoras: prove Pythagoras’ Theorem fast by moving triangles around with your mouse.


Eclipse of the Moon: a short movie of the Moon moving through the Earth’s shadow, and how it appears from Earth.


Kepler’s Laws: construct your own planetary orbits and check Kepler’s Laws!


The Inner Planets: a movie of the inner planets in orbit ... and here are the Outer Planets.


Trip to Mars!  Try your skill at shooting a probe from the Earth to a close encounter with the Red planet.


Jupiter Slingshot  Find out for yourself how a gravitational boost from a moving planet can get you to the far reaches of the Solar System.


The Doppler Effect  Animation shows expanding rings of sound—and a microphone clicks as each ring hits.  Dutch Version


Carnot Cycle: the Carnot engine in action!  You can slow it down to see what’s going on, and choose other values of pressure and volume to vary the cycle.


Michelson-Morley Experiment: an animation of the beautiful experiment to detect the aether that found nothing. 


Lightclock: Einstein’s famous clock bouncing light between two mirrors is animated, to show just why taking the speed of light the same in all inertial frames leads inevitably to time dilation.


Young’s Interference Experiment  An animation that builds up the two-slit interference pattern by adding the two waves sequentially for a series of points on the screen.


Phases of Venus  An animation of Venus in orbit, with the sunlit portion of the surface viewed from different perspectives.  (htm file)


Chinese Version