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Feynman Lectures Released Free Online 70

Anna Merikin writes In 1964, Richard Feynman delivered a series of seven hour-long lectures at Cornell University which were recorded by the BBC, and in 2009 (with a little help from Bill Gates), were released to the public. The three-volume set may be the most popular collection of physics books ever written, and now the complete online edition has been made available in HTML 5 through a collaboration between Caltech (where Feyman first delivered these talks, in the early 1960s) and The Feynman Lectures Website. The online edition is "high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman's legendary lectures," and, thanks to the implementation of scalable vector graphics, "has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape; text, figures and equations can all be zoomed without degradation." Volume I deals mainly with mechanics, radiation and heat; Volume II with electromagnetism and matter; and Volume III with quantum mechanics. Last year we told you when Volume I was made available. It's great to see the rest added.
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Feynman Lectures Released Free Online

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  • Silverlight (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @12:22PM (#47795567)
    When these were first released they were silverlight only. I wanted to watch them but there was a zero percent chance I would use silverlight. It is wonderful that these are now available for all the sensible people who don't drink the microsoft koolaid.
  • From the preface (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @12:47PM (#47795661)

    I was reading about the project to put these lectures online. It's amazing how well these lectures have held up over time.

    This excerpt from History of Errata [caltech.edu] is quite enjoyable:

    It is remarkable that among the 1165 errata corrected under my auspices, only several do I regard as true errors in physics. An example is Volume II, page 5-9, which now says “no static distribution of charges inside a closed grounded conductor can produce any [electric] fields outside” (the word grounded was omitted in previous editions). This error was pointed out to Feynman by a number of readers, including Beulah Elizabeth Cox, a student at The College of William and Mary, who had relied on Feynman's erroneous passage in an exam. To Ms. Cox, Feynman wrote in 1975,3 “Your instructor was right not to give you any points, for your answer was wrong, as he demonstrated using Gauss's law. You should, in science, believe logic and arguments, carefully drawn, and not authorities. You also read the book correctly and understood it. I made a mistake, so the book is wrong. I probably was thinking of a grounded conducting sphere, or else of the fact that moving the charges around in different places inside does not affect things on the outside. I am not sure how I did it, but I goofed. And you goofed, too, for believing me.”

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @11:55PM (#47798017)

    Don't mistake the String Theory religion and everything connected to it for science. It isn't.

    Notwithstanding the numerous theoretical physicists that devote their time to it. And the fact that America's most prominent theoretical physicist [briangreene.org] is a string theorist. What a mess.

    There's no question that theoretical physics has certainly declined in terms of its practical output since World War II, but that's understandable -- the death of 100K Japanese and the nihilistic horror of a thermonuclear war is a hard act to follow up :) On the other hand, there's definitely some force to the argument that theoretical physics has kinda lost its way because the Philosophy of Science hasn't managed to keep pace. Something that really comes through with Feynman's lectures is that he has a really solid metaphysical, experiential grounding for what he's explaining, like Einstein did. He's thought through everything he's explaining from the basic foundations and takes little for granted, and he's explicit about the things he does take for granted and he understands the limits of his arguments.

    Feynman was famous for saying that, if you couldn't explain something to a freshman lecture, it wasn't understood and you probably didn't understand it yourself. If you go up on Hulu and watch Brian Greene's NOVA three-parter on String Theory, it's atrocious -- it's like hearing a Catholic priest explain the nature of Holy Spirit. He doesn't get it -- he exemplifies the unfortunate trend in modern theoretical physics, that if you don't have the answer you want, you haven't done enough Lagrangians.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe