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The Feynman Lectures

  1. Oct 17, 2004 #1
    I'm in grade 11 physics, and I was wondering if I'd be able to get through the Feynman lectures without being totally confused. As a side questions, would those lectures give me an insight on a broad range of physics topics? That is what I'm looking for right now.
     
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  3. Oct 17, 2004 #2

    pervect

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    If you can get through them without getting totally confused, you'll gain insight. However, it's hard to guess which will happen - whether you'll be totally confused, or whether you'll gain insight.
     
  4. Oct 17, 2004 #3

    vanesch

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    Come on, I think it cannot hurt to read Feynman! (grade 11 = one before last year of high school ?) Feynman is not confusing at all. However, using it as a textbook for a first-year student is maybe not a good idea because it (seems to ) lack(s) organisation, so it might be difficult to fit the lectures in to the formal courses you are having as a Freshman. But if you're not time-pressed and you can read it and take from it what you want, then I don't know of any better introduction to physics, even 40 years after it was written. He has that time now to do so, so by all means, read it.
    Another advantage of Feynman is that almost no prerequisites for maths are made, at least not in the beginning.

    cheers,
    Patrick.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2004 #4
    I think I'm definitly going to try it out. I have a few more questions though: Do you need to read the volumes in order? Should I just get volume 1 or all in a boxed set? How do the Feynman lectures relate to Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces? Would it be appropriate to get something like Resnick & Halliday after I finish these the Feynman lectures?

    Thanks for your replies!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2004
  6. Oct 17, 2004 #5

    pervect

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    I think a normal person can deal with being confused - it's not really a big deal. You read the book, and either you get something out of it, or you go away scratching your head. In the later case, maybe you come back to it someday, later, after you've had some more coursework, and you say, "Oh, so that's what he was trying to say".

    Actually I'd be a bit surprised if there weren't at least a few confusing aspects to someone reading Feynmann for the first time at 11th grade, I wouldn't expect instant 100% total comprehension. I think the surest test is to just pick it up (if money is an object, you can get it from the library through interlibrary loan, or if your local bookstore caries it, you can browse it a bit at the bookstore), and see how it reads. If on the first reading thigns seem to be going well, I'd recommend buying it (money permitting), the library loan period will not be long enough.
     
  7. Oct 18, 2004 #6

    Doc Al

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    I think the Feynman lectures are fantastic. As pervect suggests, check them out at the library or a bookstore before you spend the coin. But realize that Feynman covers a lot of ground, sometimes in a sophisticated manner. And there are no problems to solve.

    I don't wish to discourage you from reading Feynman, but I would recommend you check out a good intro physics textbook first. (Resnick & Halliday is fine; but check out a few.) The only way to learn physics is step by step, solving problem after problem along the way. (You will have a lifetime to enjoy Feynman!)

    If I recall correctly, Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces consist of chapters taken from the Feynman lectures.
     
  8. Oct 18, 2004 #7

    Chi Meson

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    Yes indeed, the "easy pieces" are slightly edited lectures right out of the big books.

    Feynman's own recommendation for reading texts is to re-read many times. During the first reading, do not fret over details that you don't understand, rather, be aware of what you do understand. Then read the chapter again, and again, and again. Each time you read, try to be aware of what new things make sense.

    This description in Feynman's own words is (I think) in his book "Surely your Joking MR. Feynman." A good, easy read itself. He used this method to teach himself a lot of things.

    And I say, get the whole boxed-set Special Edition and carry it around wherever you go. Draw Feyman diagrams everywhere and learn Tuvan throat-singing, or at least the bongo drums.
     
  9. Oct 18, 2004 #8

    vanesch

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    YES !!

    If the money is not a problem, buy the boxed set, you won't regret it :smile:
    Otherwise, just buy volume 1. Otherwise, take it from the library (but you'll end up buying them anyhow, so why not right now).

    To those who put out some warning signs: hey, he's in 11th grade, and ok, even your average Freshman will not understand all of Feynman at once, 100%. But he'll understand 80% of it. Feynman even told in the introduction that he HOPES nobody will understand all of his lectures :rolleyes:, in that he hopes that each lecture will contain a base that will be clear to everybody, and then that there will be points that will even leave the smartest student wondering. Because he considered leaving people wondering a great way to learn.

    The nice thing about these lectures is that it is shear pleasure. It is real fun to read it. (BTW, you should also read "surely you're joking, Mr Feynman." to get a grip of the excentric personage) If he'll go into physics, or a related field, he'll have all the time to do those boring exercises in other books. For the moment, he still has time to enjoy reading without having to work out any problem, so let him take that opportunity. I wish I had. But no, people made me start (also about in 11th grade) with Alonso and Finn. Now if there is one boring book out there,... :eek:

    I'd advise for an unmoderated go ahead with Feynman. There's no danger at all. Full steam ahead :smile: :smile:

    cheers,
    Patrick.
     
  10. Oct 18, 2004 #9
    I think I'll just go ahead and get the boxed set. If I find it too hard, I'll take a step back and get Resnick & Halliday or check out the older physics book I own. All your replies have been very helpful, thanks.
     
  11. Oct 19, 2004 #10

    vanesch

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    Or ask questions here ! The combination of a good book and a great discussion forum can do wonders, if you have some time to spend. And in 11th grade, you still have that time. Use it. I'd think that most physicists hanging around have read at some point or another, Feynman's lectures. So we should be able to help out.

    cheers,
    Patrick.
     
  12. Oct 19, 2004 #11

    chroot

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    I wish I had known about them when I was in 11th grade. :smile:

    - Warren
     
  13. Oct 19, 2004 #12
    That is indeed a good idea. I definitely will be sticking around here. It's a really nice forum to be honest. :smile:

    I guess I'm lucky! :smile:
     
  14. Oct 19, 2004 #13

    quasar987

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    My recommendation would be not to worry about understanding the mathematics. Just go through the text as if it were a novel. That will assuredly give you great insights on a broad range of physics topics, and hopefully a lot of fun too!
     
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