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Advice on lectures by Leonard Susskind

  1. Apr 25, 2013 #1
    Hey guys just wanted some advice. I am an aspiring physicist. My main topics of interest are Particle Physics, Cosmology and Black Hole Physics. I have been planning to listen and study these lectures by prof and great physicist Leonard Susskind.
    So right now my exams are over and college will start in october. So i got 6 free months with me. So i thought i will start with them. So i have 2 questions :
    1. Should i do the old core sequence or the repeated and new one? I am thinking of the new one as it will also probably have the new developments of all these years. I dont think doing both will be right.
    2. I am starting with quantum mechanis. I really dont like classical and quantum mechanics both. But i need to get a grip on quantum mechanics to understand the rest of lectures on particle physics string theory and cosmology. So i am leaving it out classical mechanics. Am i making a mistake? Or can i leave out quantum also. Will i need quantum to understand the rest of the lectures?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2013 #2


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    No you cannot leave out quantum, nor can you leave out classical. They both cover basic ideas that you will need to know to follow later lectures on particle physics etc.
  4. Apr 25, 2013 #3
    Indeed. The key in self-study is patience. I understand that you want to learn everything NOW (especially the more advanced topics), but the truth is that unless you take the courses in the appropriate order, you will keep going back and forth all the time.
  5. Apr 25, 2013 #4
    Please don't use the lectures as your primary source of information. You will regret this and you will have very shaky fundamentals.

    I highly suggest you to get a good book and to study from it. This will be way better than simply to watch some internet lectures. And be sure to do a lot of exercises!!

    And please do not leave out classical mechanics. To get a good understanding if quantum physics, you need to know quite some classical mechanics. Leaving it out is a very bad idea.
  6. Apr 25, 2013 #5
  7. Apr 28, 2013 #6
    Yes i understand. But i am going to attend college this year for the same. I will be joining Lancaster University this year for the course Physics with Particle Physics and Cosmology.
    So i'll do the excercises and books at that time. They will make me do it. Right now i was just looking to you know get a deeper insight into the subjects and also cauz i love to study this.
  8. Apr 28, 2013 #7
  9. Apr 28, 2013 #8
    Hey guys the overview of the courses say that he will give lectures on black holes also. But i couldnt find those lectures. Can anyone help?
  10. Apr 28, 2013 #9
    I would would offer one caveat and suggest that you don't view Susskind's lectures as a didactic tool. They are best viewed, IMO, as entertainment and somewhat of a review if you are already familiar with the material. I went into these lectures last year with the same enthusiasm you have now, as I mentioned in another thread recently. In fact, that thread is right next to yours in this section!:tongue:


    I would recommend reading that thread before thinking your gonna do some one stop shopping at Lenny's supermarket. That's not to put down Lenny, I'd watch all his stuff regardless, its great. I just wish these guys, not just Lenny but most of them, would be more realistic with what background you need in order to understand their lectures. Lenny states at various introductory lectures that you should be able to follow the class just fine knowing some basic algebra and calculus. Not so.
  11. Apr 28, 2013 #10
    Please explain
  12. Apr 28, 2013 #11
  13. Apr 28, 2013 #12
    I have just passed high school. So my maths is still fresh. And I am going to a university this year which is gonna teach me this stuff anyway so i'm watching this videos just to get an insight as to what i am going to doing for the rest of my life and also for entertainment. And of course to learn stuff. So what do you say now? Still a bad idea?
  14. Apr 28, 2013 #13
    I think it's a waste of your time. You can use your time much better by reading some parts of the Feynman lectures or some actual physics textbook. Watching Susskind won't be very beneficial to you. But it's your time, so you should decide :tongue2:
  15. Apr 28, 2013 #14
    I do not really understand this advice against susskind lectures. Are they bad? Do they just touch the surface? What exactly is wrong with them? I have watched a few and I have always seen that he always teaches the math needed. I am just trying to understand.
  16. Apr 28, 2013 #15
    They're not bad. They can be confusing at times though, but that's not my point.
    The thing is that the OP wishes to invest time in something. While Susskind isn't bad, I think there are far better things to invest your time in. Reading a textbook or Feynman's lecture is waaaay better than watching the video's. The videos are entertaining and easy to watch though, so if you're looking for that, then go for it. But there are better ways to learn physics.
  17. Apr 28, 2013 #16
    No, go for it. I still watch his lectures from time to time. All I'm saying is that don't get overoptimistic about what you're going to get out of it, and don't feel stupid when he says all you need to know to follow the lecture is some basic algebra and calculus, and then your stumped half way into the lecture. Because you're led by the spirit of the course description to think that this is kind of a "physics appreciation" series, and that the maths will either be strightforward, simplified, or explained in detail, and that is not the case. It's also not very well organized--sometimes he goes off on tangents for long periods of time and I just tuned out. But that's also part of his charm, his tangential pontificating. Entertaining, but not always instructive.

    So again, go for it. There's probably over 100 hours of material there. My guess is that you'll get no further than half a dozen hours through and move on to something else. Let us know, keep us posted!
  18. Apr 28, 2013 #17
    This is true and confuses me sometimes.
  19. Apr 29, 2013 #18
    I have watch three of his lectures and i didnt find anything wrong with it. But still where can i find the feymann lectures?
  20. Apr 29, 2013 #19
    They're a book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Feynman_Lectures_on_Physics
    They seem to be very popular with physicists. I only read a few parts of it, but I can see why they like it.
    It's not a textbook however, but it's an awesome secondary resource.
  21. Apr 29, 2013 #20
    If you're doing well with the Susskind lectures, keep at it. I figured if it was really going that well you wouldn't have started a thread asking for advice on it. Both the old and the new series are pretty much the same. When I was watching them, I would use one to supplement the other if I got stuck on a given concept.

    So, if it continues to work out, great. If not, I'd recommend checking out the NPTEL site:


    I got a lot more out of those classes than Lenny's. Balakrishnan teaches Classical and QM, and does a great job actually teaching the subject, rather than just talking about or discussing it, like I feel Susskind does. There's a difference, but you be the judge.
  22. Apr 29, 2013 #21
    Yeah i think i will watch them. I mean they cant be a complete waste can they? And till now i have watched three lectures and there was nothing mathematically that stunned me. I'll see later n if it does. Then i can take help from some reference book. And yeah he does sometimes goes of the track but no harm in that. And yeah there is around 175 hours of it that i want to watch.
  23. Apr 29, 2013 #22
    Yeah i am doing fine. I started the thred to know which sequence i should follow. Right now i am following the repeated(new) one. And if k should watch classical or not which now i have started. Thankx for the link. I will watch susskind then i will watch them also.
  24. Apr 29, 2013 #23
    Yeah the feymann lectures are great but they are mainly on heat and electeomagnetism. Though i think i will read the third volume which is on qm. I am mainly looking for lectures on particle physics, string theory, cosmology and black hole physics.
  25. Apr 29, 2013 #24


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    The fact that you just said you don't want to learn thermodynamics but don't know that "black hole physics" involves a lot of thermodynamical analogues speaks volumes that you aren't looking to learn physics rigorously but rather seek popular accounts. Would that be fair to say? If you want to learn physics rigorously then you can't skip things like classical mechanics, statistical mechanics / thermodynamics, and electromagnetism (why would anyone who likes physics even want to skip EM anyways?).
  26. Apr 29, 2013 #25
    Ok let me explain you in a simple language that maybe you would understand. Construst two intersecting sets on a paper. Name them "Thermodynamics" and "Black hole physics". Now understand. I want to learn black hole physics which includes the thermodynamics needed for it(The intersection part). Thermodynamics is a very wide topic. I dont want to study all those things that are not related to black hole physics.
    Repeat the process for the rest of the things.
    See i do not seek popular accounts. If that was the case i wouldnt be starting a degree at a university for the same. But i never said i like "PHYSICS". I have very particular interests. That is why my degree will be about mainly Particle Physics and Cosmology.
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