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Feynman lectures on physics

  1. Jul 26, 2006 #1

    The next academical year I am going to study physics on the university and I want to prepare for the challege. I am planing to buy the Feynman lectures of physics. At amazon.com there is three sets avalible, from 2005, form 1989 and from 1970. I can't choose, I don't know wich is the best choice(in money) form my studies in electrotechnics. What is the main difference between them?

    Thank you for your reply!

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2006 #2

    Doc Al

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    I believe the only content difference in the various editions is the number of typos (and the rare physics error) that have been corrected. The full list of corrections is available on line (check our links section)--so if money is tight, get the cheapest edition you can find.
  4. Jul 26, 2006 #3


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    The best choice for preparing for school is not the Feynman Lectures. Instead, pick up a copy of a freshman-level physics textbook, like "Fundamentals of Physics" by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker.

    - Warren
  5. Jul 27, 2006 #4

    Doc Al

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    I agree with Warren 100%: You would be much better off with a classic freshman text like Halliday, et al. That way you'll build your understanding systematically, from the ground up. You'll also learn the all-important skill of solving problems, something missing from Feynman.

    (On the other hand, Feynman will give you some insights that you might not find elsewhere--but you are probably not ready for them. Everytime I dip into the lectures I pick up something new--and my student days are long past.)
  6. Jul 27, 2006 #5
    Feynman is great reading, but its not a substitute for a freshman textbook.

    I personally have a rule that whenever i have a call of nature, of the high density form, one of my Feynman lectures books go with me and i read a bit :yuck:

    I estimate that the average person spends about 4 months of their life on the crapper, thats 4 months of bonus physics time!
  7. Jul 27, 2006 #6
    I have some physics book at home. I used to learn physics at secondary school, and I went to tournaments of physics. I think, I have some of the basics. Of course it's never bad to have a book that sums the basics of physics. I read some reviews of the book(Fundamentals of physics) at amazon.com, and there were some people who were not really satisfied with way it explains things: you have to except the fact; ther is no explanation how the problem was solved. I think if I there is somewhere for cheap then I will buy it, but I am not really sure that it will help me to much. Maybe then I will have a good sum of basics.

    So you think that there is no big difference in the Feynman book in the different printing year, except the revision?
  8. Aug 6, 2006 #7
    He's going to have to get the university textbook anyway, so I'd get the Feynman Lectures as fun background reading.
  9. Sep 3, 2006 #8
    The Feynman Lectures are nice when you have a good physics background already(junior level). I don't think it will be of much use. If you want something to read, go read fabric of the cosmos:smile:
  10. Oct 27, 2006 #9


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    please do not let well meaning people talk you out of getting THE book by one of the greatest physicists of the last 50+ years, by telling you you are not ready for it.

    this is like jack nicholsons character saying "you cant handle the truth!"

    the point is well taken that it is hard to pass in school with only a general education from feynman, one needs to deal with particulars - problems.

    still, life is not all about solving problems in school. reading geniuses is worth something too.

    feynman is actually very elementary - e.g. the great molecular hypothesis- everything is made up of molecules, and heat makes the molecules jump around, the more heat, the faster and harder they jump. thats why you put the top on a pot to make it boil faster - the jumping molecules bounce back inside and hit more molecules.

    or to integrate the path of the earth going around the sun, just approximate it by a polygon and add up the sides.

    i wish my calculus teachers had make it seem as easy as feynman did.

    he is actually much more elementary and down to earth than other texts.

    on a higher level, he is much clearer, and more direct about the mathematical concept of "fields", and what they have to do with physical phenomena, than other sources in my experience, including high level post graduate conferences of professionals i have attended.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2006
  11. Oct 27, 2006 #10
    Hear, hear. The "Feynman is no good because he won't prepare you for the midterm" attitude is really blinkered.
  12. Oct 27, 2006 #11


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    well said.
  13. Oct 29, 2006 #12


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    I don't have the lectures around me I remember I read something in them, but can't recall the details.
    Did Feynman mention something about a possible corelation between the age of the universe and the electron's charge & mass?
    Something about a factor of 10^42.

    Does anyone remember? I'm really curious about that.
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