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Feynman Lectures on Physics Photos posted online

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hello, Everyone.

I'm happy to announce that the entire collection of (3043) photos taken of Richard Feynman giving his famous 1961-64 introductory physics lectures at Caltech (including his blackboards - original source material for the book, The Feynman Lectures on Physics [FLP]) have been posted in deep-zoomable format at feynmanlectures.caltech.edu, along with a modified "FLP Notes Viewer" application (now renamed, "FLP Image Viewer") suitable for perusing them. The photos are accessible two ways: (1) on the homepage of the online edition of FLP there are two new links to tables of contents for the lecture photos, one for the first year photos and another for the second, which are organized according to the original lecture sequence numbers (different in most cases from the corresponding FLP chapter numbers); and (2) in each chapter of the online edition of FLP, just to the right of the chapter number, a camera icon now appears whenever photos for that chapter exist in the Caltech Archives. Clicking an entry in the photo tables of contents or clicking on the camera icon in the FLP chapters invokes an instance of the FLP Image Viewer displaying the relevant photos. (Unfortunately, six of the lectures lack photos. In some cases it's because the lecture was given on a weekend when the photographer, Tom Harvey, wasn't working, while in other cases the negatives seem to have been lost or misplaced. It is hoped that future research will uncover the missing photos so they can be added to this repository.)

The creation of a multimedia edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics (called "eFLP") was originally the sole purpose of the Feynman Lectures project at Caltech, as proposed for the first time formally on Feb 15, 2008 (20 years after Richard Feynman died, to the day), in a memo from Kip Thorne to Tom Tombrello, then chairman of Caltech's Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy, seeking permission and support. In the closing paragraphs of his proposal Kip wrote,

"For Gottlieb, Leighton and Pfeiffer, this is a labor of love. I cannot imagine any other way to get a high-quality Electronic Edition produced, and I am convinced that they will produce a high quality product."
The publication of the FLP photos brings the online edition of FLP one step closer to fulfilling our original goal of developing a multimedia edition, a goal I've done my best to keep in sight, despite the many twists and turns the Feynman Lectures project has taken over the years (which, for example, led to the books being printed from the eFLP manuscript, before it was used for any of our electronic editions), so I am very pleased by this long-anticipated publication, and delighted to share these wonderful photos with all of you, which between 1965 (when they were deposited in the Caltech Archives) and 2009, existed only as 35 mm negatives.

In 2009 all 3043 negatives were digitized at Caltech's request by the Huntington’s Munger Library.1 The scanning of the negatives was performed on a Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 ED film scanner at its full optical resolution of 4000 dpi, 16 bit greyscale. The negative scans were then converted to positive images using Lasersoft Imaging SilverFast software, and the positive images were recorded to Gold DVD disks. Recently, the positive images were converted to a deep-zoomable format. They are served by a Cantaloupe IIIF image server, and displayed using OpenSeadragon deep-zoom image viewing software. A description of the FLP Image Viewer application can be found here.

Best regards,
Mike Gottlieb
Editor, The Feynman Lectures on Physics New Millennium Edition
www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu

1. The digitization of the FLP Photos was made possible by a generous donation from Carver Mead.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Thanks, Mike. Great work!
 
  • #3
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You're welcome. :wink:
 
  • #4
TSny
Homework Helper
Gold Member
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Wow, what a wealth of material. Thanks so much, Mike, for all the work required to do this.
 
  • #5
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You're welcome for the work, which I actually enjoyed doing. For the wealth of material - the photos themselves - we should all be grateful to Caltech, in particular the Caltech Archives, who has preserved them for so long, and has now allowed them to be published online. Also, in 2009, when digitizing the photos for a multimedia edition of FLP was proposed, there were no funds to do it, and it is only due to Carver Mead's generosity that it actually happened. Other people have also contributed to this publication, including Adam Cochran of Caltech's Office of The General Counsel, and Natallia Piatrenka, who created artwork for the online edition and the FLP Image Viewer.
 
  • #6
11,278
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The obvious unspoken question for Mike is:

So hey Mike, has reading Feynman improved your physics game? :-)
 
  • #7
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Yes.
 

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