Feynman Audio Lectures

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I love Feynman's Lectures on Physics and want to go over them again, but I find there's so much of his character is lost when just reading them. I have found a few selected audio versions of his lectures, but I would like to find the COMPLETE set. I know they exist somewhere, as that's how they were originally recorded, but does anyone know if they've been made freely available to the public, or for purchase somewhere?

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  • #3
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Thanks, this is great. But I still can't seem to find the lectures which make up "the Feynman Lectures on Physics." I know they must exist somewhere...
 
  • #5
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That's great, but WOW is that expensive. The whole set must be about $1000. How is that possible?? They were originally recorded on some old cassette deck...

Anyway, thanks for your help
 
  • #6
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Ok, they seem to be available on Audible.com for cheaper, but the whole set still works out to $532.
 
  • #7
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Just for the record: The Feynman Lectures were originally recorded on 1/4" reel-to-reel tape, not "some old cassette deck."
 
  • #8
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Can anyone learn a topic by listening math or physics ? I mean how much you can learn by listening calculus etc. ? I'm serious btw, I'm just wondering if anyone have tried it.
 
  • #9
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Can anyone learn a topic by listening math or physics ? I mean how much you can learn by listening calculus etc. ? I'm serious btw, I'm just wondering if anyone have tried it.
Well... I can tell you this much about the FLP audio: Because of Feynman's use of gesture, demonstration equipment and (most importantly) the blackboard, it is impossible, particularly for a beginner, to follow most of what Feynman is talking about, in any detail, in all but the non-technical lectures, just by listening to the tapes, particularly with regards to the mathematics, which is the heart of the subject. To follow along effectively one needs to simultaneously look at the photos of Feynman lecturing (not publicly available) with his demo equipment and blackboards, though looking at the corresponding chapters of FLP can serve the same purpose to a large extent, since most of the mathematics and figures on Feynman's blackboards are accurately represented in the books.

In my ~15 years of experience working with FLP, I haven't met a single person who has seriously attempted to learn physics by just listening to the FLP tapes. People who want to learn physics read the books, and those who are serious about it also work on physics exercises! People listen to the tapes because Feynman is a very entertaining lecturer even if you can't follow him when, for example, he is writing equations on the board, or pointing at one. (The sad truth is that many people also ignore the math when they are reading the books, so for them, at least, this is not much of a drawback!)
 
  • #10
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Well... I can tell you this much about the FLP audio: Because of Feynman's use of gesture, demonstration equipment and (most importantly) the blackboard, it is impossible, particularly for a beginner, to follow most of what Feynman is talking about, in any detail, in all but the non-technical lectures, just by listening to the tapes, particularly with regards to the mathematics, which is the heart of the subject. To follow along effectively one needs to simultaneously look at the photos of Feynman lecturing (not publicly available) with his demo equipment and blackboards, though looking at the corresponding chapters of FLP can serve the same purpose to a large extent, since most of the mathematics and figures on Feynman's blackboards are accurately represented in the books.

In my ~15 years of experience working with FLP, I haven't met a single person who has seriously attempted to learn physics by just listening to the FLP tapes. People who want to learn physics read the books, and those who are serious about it also work on physics exercises! People listen to the tapes because Feynman is a very entertaining lecturer even if you can't follow him when, for example, he is writing equations on the board, or pointing at one. (The sad truth is that many people also ignore the math when they are reading the books, so for them, at least, this is not much of a drawback!)
I would say that this is true for learning physics in general, not just for FLP. It is why I emphasized that there is a difference between learning physics, and learning ABOUT physics. As with you, I had never heard or met anyone would could learn physics simply by listening to physics audio tapes.

Zz.
 
  • #11
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Can anyone learn a topic by listening math or physics ? I mean how much you can learn by listening calculus etc. ? I'm serious btw, I'm just wondering if anyone have tried it.
What I love doing is listening to a audio lecture while looking at the book. You can almost always tell what it is he is writing down or pointing at while still getting the feeling of feynman being there.
 
  • #12
ZetaOfThree
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To follow along effectively one needs to simultaneously look at the photos of Feynman lecturing (not publicly available) with his demo equipment and blackboards
Are there any plans to make those photos publicly available?
 
  • #13
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Are there any plans to make those photos publicly available?
Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website are planning to develop a multimedia edition of FLP that will include original lecture recordings and photos, but I am not sure when it will be published - at this point it is still in the planning stages; it also depends on Basic Books who licenses the rights to the photos and recordings.
 
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  • #14
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Michael Gottlieb - thanks for the effort for archiving the audios and publishing FLP and exercises
Its always amazing to hear Feynman speaks !! :)
I watched a couple of youtube videos with you and others speaking about Feynman and the audios, any news on the multimedia edition of FLP?
I am sure Feynman would be more then happy to have all his lecturing materials widely available to the world via the internet!
...corporations and profit most often gets in the way of great things from happening... =/
 
  • #15
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PhotonEd - You're welcome. The Youtube video you saw wasn't of me - in the TEDxCaltech video the person talking about the electronic edition of FLP (in 2011, before any existed) is Adam Cochran, chairman of the Feynman Legacy Project at Caltech. As for the multimedia edition... now that we have published ePub2 and Mobi (Kindle) editions of FLP we are planning to make an ePub3/iBooks edition that can serve as the basis of a multimedia edition. We have talent lined up to do that - Lars Næsheim - but we haven't really started yet.

One comment, re. corporations, and profit, which you feel "get in the way" of great things happening: Caltech is a (for-profit) corporation, so is Basic Books, and if it weren't for them there would be no online edition of FLP.
 
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  • #16
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Hey Michael thanks for the reply

yes I watched the TEDxCaltech with Adam but I think it was you I sew on the "remembering Richard P.Feynman - Reunion Weekend 5/14/2015" video where you were speaking to the students of class 1965? I enjoyed that one and seeing their personal experience with Feynman, It was very emotional for some and very touching to see Feynman lives on in many of us, just as he put it =')

Also I really enjoy watching the cartoon version of the one of the "lost lecture(?)" - "Motion of the Planets" the animation made it even more entertaining and it would be great tool for young people learning physics with Feynman!
(BTW is lecture 1-23 now the only outstanding missing lectures of the FLP? I recalled you mentioned there are 3 missing?)

If I can make a suggestion to any further releases of the FLP series, I know there are many criticism of FLP being 50 years out of date and not suitable as a modern textbook on physics, there could be some merit to this but perhaps can easily be addressed with a supplementary textbook that goes with each FLP lectures, something like the Robert Piccioni's "Feynman lectures Simplified" series would served this purpose? (and Is this similar to how the FLP is being taught at Caltech now?)

I cant wait for the Multimedia edition of FLP, it would be amazing! I hope Basic Books and the copyright issue is not gonna be in the way of great projects for FLP, I appreciate that recording thats been preserved all these years with BasicBook (then again perhaps Caltech couldve done this for themselves?) and I think all university in America is non-profit - for the simple reason that they are tax exempt on profit, of course that dont stop it being richer then everyone else but this is another conversation all together :)
 
  • #17
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PhotonEd -- I was present in the audience at the Remembering Richard P.Feynman - Reunion Weekend event, and Kip Thorne mentions the work Ralph Leighton, Rudi Pfeiffer and I have done on FLP, but I didn't speak. Maybe you are thinking of Ralph Leighton - he spoke. The text of the cartoons you saw in the video comes from FLP Vol. I lectures, not from the so-called "Lost" lecture (Motion of the Planets Around the Sun) which was published by David and Judith Goodstein in the 1990s. As for "missing lectures" - it depends what you mean by 'missing.' I think 1-23 was the only lecture in FLP for which Perseus (Basic Books) didn't originally publish a recording, and I don't know if they have yet, but there is also a lot of FLP audio that has never been published, including three quantum mechanics lectures Feynman gave twice (only the 2nd versions were published), and about 20 hours of Feynman conversing with students before and after the lectures. I am interested in getting the latter transcribed and published in book and tape form. (Transcripts are needed because the students are hard to hear - the microphone was hanging on Feynman's neck.)

I like the idea of making an annotated edition of FLP to help explain things to people who have a hard time understanding the book, not because it is out of date, which it isn't, insofar as the material that it teaches. Newtonian mechanics, classical electrodynamics, special relativity, elementary non-relativistic quantum mechanics, etc: NONE of these things have changed, and beginners still have to learn them. In an annotated edition of FLP there would be room to discuss relevant things that have happened in physics after 1963-65, when FLP was published, but that would not be the emphasis.

I don't know where your ideas about "how the FLP is being taught at Caltech now" come from. FLP isn't used at Caltech as the primary textbook for the intro. physics course any more - it is used as supplemental reading. I also don't know why you think Basic Books preserved the Feynman Lectures recordings - they didn't. The original tapes and digitized copies are preserved in the Caltech Archives.

I was mistaken previously when I wrote Caltech is a for-profit corporation; it is a non-profit corporation, which includes JPL as well as the university. However, Caltech does earn money selling books on which they hold copyright, and they are under no obligation to publish those books for free online. Basic Books, whom Caltech has granted exclusive license to publish and distribute FLP, is certainly a for-profit corporation; they are certainly under no obligation to publish books they license for free online! Caltech and Basic Books have been very generous and open-minded in allowing FLP to be published online for free, which could not have been done without their consent and approval.
 
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  • #18
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Hey Micheal,
oh my apologies, that was Ralph at the reunion but your work on FLP is also appreciated :)

Yes would be great idea to have the conversations of Feynman Q&A discussion with the students, and would be interesting if can be organized by topics :)
Together with the Multimedia version of FLP, with additional "annotation" up to date discoveries since the 1960's in physics (subatomic particle physics...etc)
and accompanied by a supplementary series to explain his lectures and concepts
This will certainly help Feynman to reach his thoughts and ideas to physics students of our time!

Its a shame that Caltech has stopped teaching the FLP, I wonder why Kip Thorne and others decides to make the change(after Feynman?), I thought this is part of their job as The Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics.
 
  • #19
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PhotonEd -- FLP was used as the primary text for Caltech's mandatory 2-yr introductory physics course for almost 2 decades. I don't know who was involved in the decisions that led to other textbooks being used for that course, but I am sure it wasn't Kip Thorne. It happened before he became the Feynman Professor, and in any case holding an academic chair named in Feynman's honor doesn't obligate the professor so honored in any way with regard to Feynman, his works, etc. It so happens, however, that Kip was a friend of Feynman and also of the Leightons. When Ralph Leighton and I first proposed the projects that eventually led to the publication of The Definitive Edition of FLP, the New Millennium edition of FLP, Feynman's Tips on Physics, Exercises for The Feynman Lectures on Physics, the free-to-read online edition of FLP, etc. we had no support at Caltech, so we appealed to Kip, who championed our cause. It took years of gentle campaigning to gain acceptance. Without Kip's dedication and perseverance none of the above-mentioned publications (nor any other that might come of this project) would be. So, insofar as preserving The Feynman Lectures on Physics, I think Kip did a darn good job.
 
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  • #20
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Hey Micheal, thanks for letting us in the back drop for the new publication of FLP and thanks once again for your hard work Plus "Team Feynman" :)
I am just about to get a copy of the Exercises for The Feynman Lectures on Physics (it comes with all the answers at the back i am assuming? )
Please keep us informed regarding the Multimedia version of FLP and I hope our suggestions are helpful going forward :)
 
  • #21
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PhotonEd -- Regarding the answers in the back of Exercises for The Feynman Lectures on Physics, it's a little complicated: The answers to the majority of exercises is a number, a mathematical formula or equation, and for all of those the answer is given. A minority of exercises are of the form, "Show X is true." So, in effect, you are given the answer to a problem and asked to prove it.

The exercises are derived from three sources: The Vol. I exercises come from Exercises for Introductory Physics by Robert Leighton and Rochus Vogt (1969), who chose to leave the "Show X is true" problems unanswered. I promised Vogt I wouldn't make any substantive changes to this material, so I didn't. The Vols. II and III exercises were published by Caltech in 1964 and 1965, without any answers (which made them less than ideal for self-study). So I supplied the answers, mostly taken from solution books used by the professors who taught the course in the 1960's - Eugene Cowan provided his personal copies for my use. I had a lot more editorial freedom, but also some space and time limitations, so with regard to the "Show X is true" problems (more abundant in the Vols. II & III exercises) I did this: if I could find a way to express the proof in a (not overly-long) paragraph I did so, otherwise not. This covered the majority of cases, though not all.
 
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  • #22
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I see, well you are right it doesnt make it the best self-study guide for problems without detail solutions, but I guess there are other options for that
That being said, it wouldnt have been in the spirit of Richard Feynman =)
would be helpful if it comes with tips in the problems with proves and no solutions at the back
but I am sure you have guys have done a fine job and already taken that into consideration :)
 
  • #23
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This is a debatable point, but I will put my two cents in: The purpose of an exercise book is not to teach the student how to solve problems, but merely to provide problems to solve. The answers are provided so that you can check your solutions against them, as a measure of their correctness. In the opinion of this editor, and the authors of FLP and the FLP exercises, it's not a good thing to show a student how to solve a problem that they are supposed to solve themselves. (The teachers can solve other problems for the students, as demonstrations, in lectures.) You are supposed to use an exercise book like this: You read the problem and attempt to solve it without looking in the back of the book. Once you've done that, you look. If what you see there is a full solution for that problem, whose answer is not the same as yours, then that's it: that problem is spoiled for you forever - unless you have a poor memory you can never solve it on your own thereafter. The fun and joy of solving physics exercises is figuring them out for yourself. Like Feynman said, "What I can not create I do not understand." Solving physics exercises is (or should be, in my opinion) an exercise in that philosophy. If, on the other hand, what you see when you look in the back of the book is just the answer, one that is not the same as yours, then you have another chance to try to solve it again. You might find a different way to solve it than the authors would. In fact I would recommend the following: after looking in the back of the book, finding the answer isn't what you got, reworking the problem and finding a solution that produces the right answer, you should find another solution using a different technique, or underlying principle, in order to verify that your solution (made after you saw the answer) isn't merely 'reverse-engineered.' Anyway it's fun to find many ways of solving one problem and doing so often reveals deeper relationships than you would've seen if you only found one solution.
 
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  • #24
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yes Micheal thanks for the tip, I will give it my best shot thanks :)
 

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