Are the Feynman lectures on physics good?

In summary: In fact, I don't think I ever saw one in person until I was an advanced graduate student in the early 1990s. So you might want to hold off on the purchase until you have a better idea of your needs.The Feynman lectures are great for intuitive and insightful explanations, but they are not suitable for most as a first course. However, they have so many insightful perspectives that they are a terrific supplement.
  • #1
Aaren
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I've been reading a lot of stuff around physics as of late, and I was wondering if the "The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Volumes I, II, III." are a good thing to read?
I'm asking as the price for these books aren't cheap, and I want to make sure they are worth the buy.
 
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  • #3
They are very, very good. They are also available free online: https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/

There are some incidental mistakes, which have mostly been corrected. In the quantum mechanics part, Feynman gives an incorrect argument against hidden variables. And they are not suitable for most as a first course. However, they have so many insightful perspectives that they are a terrific supplement.
 
  • #6
Feynman's lectures are great for intuitive and insightful explanations`. Chapter 7 of "The Feynman Lectures on Gravitation" is a nice introduction to general relativity. (He covers general relativity in chapter 42 of the feynman lectures volume II also.) The rest of that book takes a QFT route into the subject.
 
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  • #7
Yes, I think the Feynman lectures are worth the price. I have a copy that I purchased in a 3 volume binder (?), I think it was a commemorative edition. They were in a half price bookstore but they were shrink-wrapped and looked brand new, and possibly even un-opened for 85$. They are a bit sturderier than the paperback 3 volume set I inherited when a former graduate school roommate moved on. So you see, I bought them even after I had a thirty-five year old copy of them in paperback, so I thought they were worth the purchase.

Feynman lectures present physics in a novel, interesting manner. The lectures do not contain any problems to check understanding, but there is a separate volume that has problems. All told, for the majority of physics / engineering students, are better served with a conventional treatment from Resnick/Halliday, Knight, or Giancarlo. Feynman is a really good read after the conventional treatment, to appreciate what you already know, and to extend your knowlege. I have heard some physics graduates say they used the lectures in "brushing up" for their GRE's or even in studying for the less demanding part of their qualifying examinations, although most qualifying exam problems go beyond this level.

Depending on your goals, I can recommend them. If you want to read them for enjoyment, I can recommend them highly. If you are reading them for self-study to bring you up to the level of a third year undergraduate in physics / engineering, I think you will have to fill in some gaps.
 
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  • #8
  • #9
mpresic3 said:
Yes, I think the Feynman lectures are worth the price. I have a copy that I purchased in a 3 volume binder (?), I think it was a commemorative edition. They were in a half price bookstore but they were shrink-wrapped and looked brand new, and possibly even un-opened for 85$. They are a bit sturderier than the paperback 3 volume set I inherited when a former graduate school roommate moved on. So you see, I bought them even after I had a thirty-five year old copy of them in paperback, so I thought they were worth the purchase.

Feynman lectures present physics in a novel, interesting manner. The lectures do not contain any problems to check understanding, but there is a separate volume that has problems. All told, for the majority of physics / engineering students, are better served with a conventional treatment from Resnick/Halliday, Knight, or Giancarlo. Feynman is a really good read after the conventional treatment, to appreciate what you already know, and to extend your knowlege. I have heard some physics graduates say they used the lectures in "brushing up" for their GRE's or even in studying for the less demanding part of their qualifying examinations, although most qualifying exam problems go beyond this level.

Depending on your goals, I can recommend them. If you want to read them for enjoyment, I can recommend them highly. If you are reading them for self-study to bring you up to the level of a third year undergraduate in physics / engineering, I think you will have to fill in some gaps.
Yes, I think you "nailed it".

When I was an undergraduate at Caltech in the late 1970's they DID NOT used the Feynman lectures in the first 2 years of physics classes, they used the Berkeley Physics texts. The common assessment was that Feynman was great for deep understanding, but that it wasn't that great if you wanted to become proficient at solving physics problems. It's not a great book for Engineers, Biologists, Geologists, Chemists, etc.
 
  • #10
hutchphd said:
Read lecture 3. That should do it.
From which:
Feynman said:
Physics is the most fundamental and all-inclusive of the sciences, ...

Such modest folks, these physicists :cool:
 
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  • #11
no, feynman is overrated.

don't kill me.
 
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Related to Are the Feynman lectures on physics good?

1. Are the Feynman lectures on physics suitable for beginners?

Yes, the Feynman lectures on physics are suitable for beginners. They are written in a clear and engaging manner that makes complex concepts easy to understand for readers with little to no background in physics.

2. Are the Feynman lectures on physics still relevant today?

Yes, the Feynman lectures on physics are still relevant today. While they were originally published in the 1960s, the fundamental principles and theories discussed in the lectures are still widely accepted and used in modern physics.

3. How do the Feynman lectures on physics compare to other physics textbooks?

The Feynman lectures on physics are often praised for their unique and engaging approach to explaining complex physics concepts. They are more conversational and less formal than traditional textbooks, making them more accessible to readers.

4. Are the Feynman lectures on physics suitable for self-study?

Yes, the Feynman lectures on physics are suitable for self-study. The lectures are written in a clear and engaging style, making them easy to follow and understand without the guidance of a teacher or professor.

5. Can the Feynman lectures on physics be used as a reference for advanced physics concepts?

Yes, the Feynman lectures on physics can be used as a reference for advanced physics concepts. While they are suitable for beginners, the lectures also cover more advanced topics and can serve as a valuable resource for those looking to deepen their understanding of physics.

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