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Feynman lectures

  1. May 17, 2007 #1
    Has anyone read the Feynman Lectues? Is it worth getting if you are looking to further establish a good grasp of the fundamentals?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2007 #2


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    Definitely. Feynman is basically good for anybody.
  4. May 17, 2007 #3


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    Feynman's great for intuition. It will not help you learn to solve problems, though. If you're trying to ace an exam, you're better off with a textbook like Halliday, Resnick and Walker.

    - Warren
  5. May 18, 2007 #4
    Read Feynman after you feel sure you understand a subject. Then you can have the pleasure of finding out that you really didn't understand it at all.

    Look upon his works and despair!
  6. May 18, 2007 #5
    I am a big fan of the Feynman lectures, but as chroot said they won't help you much with exams. I recommend you use your course textbook first and then the lectures, lesson by lesson. This will cement your grasp on the topic at hand.
    But mind you, the Feynman lectures is a lot more intellectually challenging(and rewarding) than your usual textbook. You see physics in a new light, through the eyes of one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century, who also happened to be a master teacher.
  7. May 18, 2007 #6
    Feynman Lectures won't help you solve problems. I think of it as an advanced popular science series. However as far as helping you understand what's going on and methods on approaching original problems I say it's good. It's not a necessity for your education though. I found it most useful when there was something I knew how to use but didn't understand it and I read a chapter on what he thought of it.
  8. May 18, 2007 #7
    From someone in your position of using them as an actual learning tool, not as review: I'm well into the first volume right now (though I've read a little here and there from the 2nd and 3rd)— the Feynman lectures being my first non pop-science book on physics, I think that, depending on the kind of learner you are, they can either be great or terrible as a learning tool.

    If you're a person who learns in a linear fashion, get a textbook first.
    If you're like me and you need the "big picture" and philosophy first before getting into the details, then Feynman is your man. The way I use them is I read a chapter, get the idea, and then look at a textbook or a website with problems and more detailed examples... that way once you go into the more complicated stuff, you already have an idea of what it's all supposed to feel like (intuition as someone said).

    After all, the key word is lecture; Feynman makes a point of it in the prologue— they were lectures, and after the lectures his students went on to group studies and such. Feynman states the laws and principles and philosophy behind the science, and leaves it to you to use it as you please on your own.

    He also does a great job in making his explanations colorful and entertaining (when possible, of course... I mean, there's no real way to "jazz up" probability distribution).
    Last edited: May 18, 2007
  9. May 18, 2007 #8
    the books are great, though sometimes hard to understand, but thats natural when you sum all topics in physics to 1300 pages...

    its pretty odd but when i learn something half way, i start thinking about it obsessively, asking myself a lot of questions, and then in time when i learn the material fundamentally i get very exited since at last i know the answers to all the questions.
    and if i would have just learned the material fundamentally the first time it wouldnt be much fun, since i read it passively without asking myself any questions, its like reading a phone book...

    so feynman lectures may rise my curiosity by many levels when i will start physics in a university.
    though sometimes it gives me a headache when he just pops equations out of no where... its hard for me to see things with intuition, i always want a full mathematical proof...
  10. May 18, 2007 #9
    haha yea, that sometimes happens to me too— he'll say "so therefore, we can easily see that <equation>" ... and I'll be like :confused: where'd that come from? ... but in a way it helps me to do active thinking in order to arrive to that same conclusion and really understand why it's right. sometimes when textbooks tell me every step of how physics arrives to a conclusion, while I understand more at first, I feel like I lose the part that involves using my own imagination.
  11. Dec 5, 2007 #10
    I have these in PDF format if anyone wants them. Not sure if posting these would be against the rules however. (bit of a copyright infringement probably)
  12. Dec 5, 2007 #11


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    I'm not sure that its even legal. I know some textbooks are distributed for free in PDF format but I wasn't aware that the Feynman lectures were.
  13. Dec 5, 2007 #12

    Chi Meson

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    Absolutely not legal. The Feynman estate recently blocked the Youtube upload of the videos of the actual lectures that the printed version was based on. (How's that for a sentence?) The lectures are nowhere near public domain.
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