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The Feynman Lectures on Physics (2013) (caltech.edu)
142 points by m_sahaf 6 days ago | hide | past | web | 38 comments | favorite

Microsoft Research made a number of Feynman lectures available in 2009 with their Project Tuva [1]. Originally it required Silverlight, but the Silverlight app has been decommissioned. The videos are now directly available online.

For those interested in Feynman, the man, I highly recommend "Surely you must be joking, Mr. Feynman.". It's a mostly fun, sometimes sad, look at his life.

[1] https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/project/tuva-richar...

Thank you.

I had tried to find this before and it was like Microsoft were making it for Windows users only.

Here is a path for learning physics, https://www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2016/8/13/so-you-want-to-l... for those interested, and here is relevant HN discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12691963

Is this a good introduction to physics for a layman who is comfortable with linear algebra and calculus?

I'm not sure how many 'layman' are comfortable with Linear Algebra and Calculus ;).

Give it a shot; there's a fair number of non-mathy digressions that are worth reading, and you sound like you have the background to handle the mathier parts.

Well, I mean 'layman' as one of the most common demographics on HN: someone who has a degree in CS and maths but is now a full time developer.

No, definitely not. Try to find some book in the topic that you are interested in. If it is electromagnetism, go for the black book with four equations printed. If it is quantum mechanics, I like the Sakurai book.

Volume 1 seems pretty accessible (I read it back in the day). Electromagnetism is much denser indeed.

Griffiths on Electromagnetism?

Yeah, I like the Griffiths book. Last time I heard he is on the gre physics panel. Wonder what is he doing now.

Yes, if you supplement it with problems -- you'll have to find them elsewhere or make some up yourself. (There's a companion book of exercises recently published, not on the website, which I haven't read.)

Of course different books help most for different people. This one's not the best if you want to pass a course and put it behind you. I think it's very much worth checking out if you want to be challenged and inspired to tackle problems for yourself and perhaps pick up a bit of how Feynman thought. There are very few other introductory texts by physicists of his stature: Matter and Motion by Maxwell, and, well, anything else? (Not counting popularizations; it's a fuzzy distinction, but these are securely on the textbook side.)

Parts are and parts definitely aren't. I have a four year physics degree and found the treatment of certain sections very challenging. I would not recommend it as an introductory text

Yes, this series is fantastic. It offers a number of side-discussions that should also prove useful if you decide to go on to read more specialized physics material (e.g. to follow a more "traditional" academic physics curriculum).

These books were created from Feynman's lectures to freshman and sophomore Caltech students. I have not looked at the books in detail, but I think that a dedicated reader who is comfortable with calculus should be able to understand them.

As a very first physics textbook I really liked Halliday's. But I did not read very extensively back then, the focus was really on understanding and solving problems.

Definitely. But there aren't any problems and problem-solving is essential to learning physics so you need to have other textbooks at hand as well.

I notice that the way these volumes are split up is the same as both the way US AP classes and most colleges I've seen split up physics classes. Is it safe to assume that it has become the canonical order to teach the subject because of these lectures?

No, that was the canonical order of lectures long before Feynman started teaching.

Actually, I think Feynman's influence on introductory physics teaching is much smaller than it is often stated. More "standard" courses that put a higher emphasis on how to actually carry out computations are more successful first physics courses. Feynman's lecture notes are an illuminating read to gain a broader perspective when one has already learnt how to "do" physics. IIRC in the preface Feynman himself actually expresses his disappointment with how well his students actually managed to learn from his teaching.

Feynman as a researcher was a master at presenting his (innovative and important) results in insightful ways, such that they appear almost obviously plausible from these alternative angles. But he did that after powering through insanely hard, long calculations to really obtain these results. Those are the most important part of the work.

I'm a huge fan of Feynman, but the lectures gave me the impression they are not the ultimate learning resource for physics. Any other books on physics that people would recommend?

Funny to see the guy in the top photo in the process of lighting a smoke. Ah, the good old days.

Anyway, great series. I happened upon the 50th anniversary hardbound edition in a Los Alamos museum bookstore.

Are these good for getting an intuition for the underlying math, without particularly caring about physics?

I don't care so much about particle interactions, but if I can get a better intuition for thinking about common mathematics, that would be more useful to me.

Does anyone know how this publication relates to Six Easy Pieces? Same thing now free? Different lectures? Same lectures but one is abridged?


Six Easy Pieces corresponds to these chapters in The Feynman Lectures on Physics:

  Chapter 1, Atoms in Motion
  Chapter 2, Basic Physics
  Chapter 3, Relation of Physics to Other Sciences
  Chapter 4, Conservation of Energy
  Chapter 7, Theory of Gravitation
  Chapter 37, Quantum Behavior
The editing differences are probably slight. Six Easy Pieces first came out in 1994 and the question would be whether a particular edition contains the 2006 definitive edition corrections.

Based on the description of "Six Easy Pieces", it appears to be a book targeted specifically at a lay audience, to popularize physics. The Feynman Lectures on Physics are basically a collection of lecture notes for a series of courses he taught at CalTech to physics majors, a decidedly not-lay audience.

I believe it's just 6 of the lectures, selected for their accessibility to a general audience (i.e., lack of mathyness).

My favorite part of those books is Book II, Chapter 19 on "The Principle of Least Action" - a great explanation of the core of what he would win his Nobel prize for two years later.

The sizable section that analyzes ways to try "beat" the two-slit electron experiment is also amazing.

I wish I knew about the Feynman lectures during my undergrad :(

Bill Gates supposedly put all the free video lectures online. I see a comment there that links to 7 of them but I wonder where the rest are.

There are no videos of the lectures of the material the book is based on. The videos Gates put up are the Messenger Lectures that Feynman gave at Cornell.


why are you posting pirated copies of copyrighted material to HN?

Thank you, packetslave!

So that people can read it, I would assume.

that's... not how copyright works

For those who don't read Farsi (I think it's Farsi, anyway), that link is somewhat less than useful...

You just have to press the blue icon if you want to read online (through .pdf nonetheless) or the orange one to download it. I don't read Farsi, but if you hover over those icons, you can see the link and the pdf is in English.

If you click the buttons at the top they take you through to english pdfs

If only the greatest of us didn't rot away and die. I think Feynman would be great to still have around.

I was a physics major. These 3 volumes used to be so dry that I can't even turn a page. But those are real good memory considering I am now just a web developer digging code just for the money. Hey, at least I can show off to my former classmates on how much I am making. Don't you pity me.

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