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Question about Feynman Lecutres

  1. Jun 18, 2012 #1
    Are the Feynman lectures supposed to have problems in the end of the chapters? Because I am looking at some previews and it doesn't seem that they have problems to solve?

    I always thought that it would have challenging problems, perhaps I am confusing it with a different book.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2012 #2


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    The Feynman Lectures on Physics don't include problems. Feynman's Tips on Physics contains problems and is a supplement to the lectures.
  4. Jun 19, 2012 #3
    Oh okay. Thank you.
  5. Jun 19, 2012 #4
    Feynman's Tips on Physics (TIPS) includes about 80 exercises. I wanted to include more, but the publisher (Pearson) felt we should limit the number of pages dedicated to exercises so they would not overwhelm the rest of the book. I therefore selected 80 exercises (personal favorites) from "Exercises for Introductory Physics" by Leighton and Vogt, which was an expanded version of Caltech's "Exercises for The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume I." I limited my selection to problems for the first 20 chapters of Volume I, which is about where Feynman's students would have been (had the books existed) when they took the test for which the review lectures in TIPS were meant to prepare them.

    My colleagues and I are currently working on an exercise book for FLP, which we hope to publish later this year. It will include about 900-1000 exercises from the original FLP course taught at Caltech, with answers (and some worked-out solutions) covering all the main sequence material in (all three volumes of) FLP. [Most of these exercises have been published before, in the 1960's, but they are long out of print, and the Vols. II and III exercises were originally published without answers (making them not particularly useful for self-study).]

    If you would like to see the homework sets, tests and quizzes (and other handouts) that Feynman's students got when he taught the course (before the books existed!), then check out The FLP Original Course Notes.

    If you'd like to work some excellent exercises in mechanics, I recommend "Introduction to Classical Mechanics with Problems and Solutions" by David Morin (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007). You might also want to check out Morin's "Harvard Physics: Problem(s) of the Week(s)".

    Finally, if you are looking for exercises for FLP Vol II, check out Review Questions, Examples, Grasps and Problems for Electromagnetic Field Theory. This is an excellent collection of exercises specifically designed for The Feynman Lectures on Physics Volume II, written by Miko Elwenspoek, Leon Abelmann, Wouter Olthuis, and Remco Wiegerink of The University of Twente, NL, where it is used in the introductory EM field theory course.

    Mike Gottlieb
    Editor, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, New Millennium Edition
    Coauthor, Feynman's Tips on Physics
  6. Jun 19, 2012 #5
    I'm not sure why they thought that more than 80 exercises would be too much. But I wish you the best of luck on your next project, I'm sure a lot of people would appreciate the added exercises - including myself.

    Thanks, those are some very good links.

    One thing I've been struggling with is whether I should study classical mechanics or Feynman's Lectures in my free time this summer.

    Do the Feynman lectures contain Hamiltonian's and Lagrangians? I doubt it. But I think it would be good to study classical mechanics and supplement it with Feynman lectures anyways. It might not do anything without the exercises, but the Feynman lectures are incredibly entertaining anyways.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  7. Jun 19, 2012 #6

    Feynman devotes a chapter to the principle of least action; I don't think it uses fully fledged hamiltonian and lagrangian formalism though.
  8. Jun 19, 2012 #7
    That is true. One finds the following in FLP Vol. II, section 31-1, par. 2:
    Our mechanics is not complete, because we studied mechanics when you didn’t have a high level of mathematical sophistication, and we were not able to discuss subjects like the principle of least action, or Lagrangians, or Hamiltonians, and so on, which are more elegant ways of describing mechanics. Except for general relativity, however, we do have the complete laws of mechanics.

    BTW, "Introduction to Classical Mechanics with Problems and Solutions" by David Morin includes an introduction to the Lagrangian method.
  9. Jun 19, 2012 #8


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    FWIW, Taylor Classical Mechanics also has a quite nice introduction to both Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods
  10. Jun 19, 2012 #9
    Codelieb, I've read one of the books about Feynman "Genius": The Life & Science of Richard Feynman." One thing I read is that he he never liked to use Hamiltonians & Lagrangians and always tried to find ways around them through other methods. He noted that they provide enough intuition of what was going on.

    Is there any documentation of what he did to actually go around something as major as Hamiltonians & Lagrangians.

    Yes I'm going through it now. I completed chapter one today, but I skipped most of the problems. There was a big jump between the material in the text and the problems. In fact, the chapter was very easy and I completed it in X hours but there was an unnecessary leap of difficulty in solving some of the problems, but I suppose I will get used to it. It may be because I grew used to having a bunch of examples in the chapter. The problems aren't straight forward as some of the problems in my Calculus-based Physics II class-- but that is definitely a good thing.

    Edit: I guess the only concern is that it would have been more convenient if he had a couple examples of solving things with Differential equations, but that needs stems from the fact that I haven't formally took DE. I was having trouble solving a regular projectile problem with DEs.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  11. Jun 20, 2012 #10
    When you say Feynman "never liked to use Hamiltonians & Lagrangians" it sounds rather odd because he certainly used Hamiltonian matrices and operators in quantum mechanics (see, for example, FLP Vol. III, Chapter 8 The Hamiltonian Matrix), and the Lagrangian is central to the principle of least action, on which Feynman's Nobel prize-winning work in quantum electrodynamics is based. Perhaps he did not like the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formalisms in classical mechanics... but then, he didn't like formalisms in general!

    Where in "Genius" did you read this about Feynman?
  12. Jun 20, 2012 #11
    Edit: Chapter two in Taylor has much more examples about solving with differential equations, so that is good.

    Yes, he noted classical mechanics a few times when he complained about the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian. I don't recall that he extended that complain to quantum mechanics however. One thing he noted is that you lose a lot of information from the formalism in Classical Mechanics.

    The book is quite big so I don't remember what chapter or page. If you follow the sequence of the story in the book, it is probably located at his early undergraduate point in classical mechanics. The book is a bit nonlinear so by that point its probably halfway through the book.
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