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How to prepare for the Feynman Lectures

  1. Oct 26, 2015 #1
    I'm in the 11th grade and have little education of college level mathematics. I individually find myself studying one section of it but hardly have a grasp. I really want to read the Feynman Lectures to further my education of physics, but as I read over the pdf it looks like there is a lot of mathematics that I don't understand. Is there anything I can read or videos that I can watch to make the Feynman Lectures understandable? If not, are there any books that you recommend to a beginner? As of right now I am reading In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, and so far it makes sense/I already know it.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2015 #2
    I've never read the Feynman Lectures so I downloaded a PDF too. Good lord that's a lot of words and notation. Forget reading it, have Mr. Feynman himself give you the narrative, part of what made his great was that he was a great orator. A lot of what made him a good teacher would be lost in a PDF.

     
  4. Oct 26, 2015 #3
    Well It's rated one of the best books to just give a very strong general education on physics, do you know of something easier that can be kind of parallel to that. Also I need a credit for my English class. I was going to read the book any ways but it would be nice to kill 2 birds with one stone (self-study and English credit). I will definitely check out his lecture videos though they seem interesting.
     
  5. Oct 26, 2015 #4
    Hmm... A brief history of time perhaps? E=mc^2 in the only equation in it.

    Or perhaps if you got the oration from Feynman and got to see what he drew on his blackboards first, the PDF may make more sense.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  6. Oct 26, 2015 #5
    I will be looking into this thank you for your help :)
     
  7. Oct 26, 2015 #6
    Feynman does a fantastic job of explaining the conceptual stuff, but you really have to have a general knowledge of the math behind everything if you wish to truly understand what's going on.
     
  8. Oct 26, 2015 #7
    I wish I had the time to study the mathematics but between school and my CCP classes there is just no possible way. I have to wait till I graduate :/, also I have heard people do love the way Feynman explains stuff.
     
  9. Oct 26, 2015 #8
    They're still great to read even if it's a little over your head. Just slowly work at learning the maths bit by bit, even if it takes some time.
     
  10. Oct 26, 2015 #9

    Geofleur

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    I was pretty well prepared mathematically (I'd had Calcs 1-4, Linear Algebra, and differential equations) and the Feynman lectures were still tough for me as an undergraduate. At the same time, I learned a lot from reading them. It's a useful skill to be able to read things that you don't completely understand and not quit or get frustrated. These are books that you can keep coming back to again and again for your whole life, getting something worthwhile each time.

    Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that, because there is lots of space in the margins of the printed versions, you can fill them with your own examples and "missing steps". It's one of my favorite active learning strategies.
     
  11. Oct 26, 2015 #10

    Student100

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    Lectures on physics won't give you a strong general education in physics, they're best read after completing the freshman/sophomore series in physics. Which is my recommendation for how to prepare for them- wait until you've got a bit of physics under your belt.

    The books have no problem sets, that should be a dead giveaway they aren't meant to be used in that manner.

    You're reading pop science, there's no magic video online to help you understand the math in FL or any other book(if only there was!), and you won't learn physics from the sort of books you're reading. The best advice I have is to study hard in school now, take AP classes (physics and calc) if available, build a strong foundation and then study physics in university.
     
  12. Oct 26, 2015 #11
    That's a good point. I haven't opened them in a while, but I remember reading them relentlessly before I knew basic calculus. If you find physics fascinating they are exciting to read.
     
  13. Oct 26, 2015 #12
    I wouldn't say I'm reading pop science, I took a lot of the lectures that Yale puts up online and dedicated a lot of days trying to understand the Lyapunov exponent within chaos theory, but as I dove deeper I just decided that I should wait for someone to put these lessons together for me as opposed to just trying to get ahead and for now I will just read and learn what I can.
     
  14. Oct 26, 2015 #13
    I understand what you mean by trying to read material that you quite don't understand. Thank you for this comment I will take this into consideration.
     
  15. Oct 26, 2015 #14

    atyy

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  16. Oct 26, 2015 #15
    Would you recommend that I read these now or should I finish high school first, and is this just an example of what I would need or all I would need.
     
  17. Oct 26, 2015 #16

    Student100

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    Search of Schrodinger's Cat is pop science.

    Obviously your first goal should be to finish high school with the best grades/foundation you can get. If you have time, then studying physics and mathematics from textbook's couldn't hurt! Just don't put to much stock in books like Search of Schrodinger's Cat or E=mc^2. You aren't learning physics from them.

    To make a silly analogy, just make sure you don't lose sight of the ground for the horizon. The ground is your foundation that gets you to the horizon.
     
  18. Oct 26, 2015 #17

    atyy

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    It is not all you need, but it will help you get started. You should make sure your school work is all in order, and you can start on these "college level" things any time as your hobby. In some parts of the world, they are considered high school mathematics.
     
  19. Oct 27, 2015 #18
    I know it's pop science but what I meant to say is that I don't always read pop science. Also, I'm doing great in high school (3.9) and I am taking college classes at my local university, I was just a bit curious as of what is out there for me that wouldn't be a waste of my time but also improve my understanding for college. Try to remember this was mostly about picking out a book for an English assignment that was followed by personal enjoyment and betterment. Thank you for your insight though.
     
  20. Oct 27, 2015 #19
    You need to give us more information about you so we can help.
    What kind of classes are you taking at your local university and what textbooks are you using? Tell us about your background in math.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  21. Oct 27, 2015 #20
    Sorry I didn't see this thread getting this deep, happy to provide though. I'm taking Psychology and Sociology in one semester and then I'm going to try and take 2 more in the 2nd and maybe 1 or 2 over the summer these classes aren't really for my education on physics they are the general education classes so by the time I graduate I can hopefully dive in to classes that actually matter to me. I'm not going to go to the university I am right now after I graduate, my high school only offers me to go to one of 2 colleges. I would assume that my textbooks are irrelevant since I'm not taking any mathematics courses. As for my background in math, I am in CP pre-calculus so I'm like one step above my grades normal but one step below the advanced (could easily be in advanced but I got placed in 4th grade). I have a 105 in my class and find it very easy. I try to teach myself out of school but lately since I started the college classes I find little to no time between homework and studying for the ACT. As of right now I just know like a couple things that my high school class doesn't which is disappointing because I was like a year or more ahead at one point.
     
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