What did you get out of 1000 hrs. of Susskind lectures?

  • Thread starter DiracPool
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  • #26
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What if you are someone like me?

I think the Susskind lectures are priceless. He hits the intended audience really well. Physics is just a hobby, I'm an old fart and I have no expectation of ever mastering anything of it. I just want to know more and more about all of it. I don't really care about how fast it goes.

Those lectures are a huge inspiration, to once in a while study a bit more deeply by looking in the books and do some tests etc.

I can understand that young students have no use for him, but they are not part of his target audience.

He jumps around yes, and that suits me perfectly ;) You have to love that newyork accent :)

Yes, but you aren't learning physics, you're just being entertained. In the same way that watching basketball on T.V. is not going to make you a good basketball player. That's fine, but to "know" physics is something which requires a long and painful process. If that's all your goal is, then that's fine, but for someone who wants to actually understand and learn physics, they'll find that no matter how closely they pay attention to those lectures that when put to the test they actually understood or absorbed very little of it.
 
  • #27
Yes, but you aren't learning physics, you're just being entertained.

You seem to be really polarized. I agree there's a high degree of entertainment if you like his style, but I've learned a lot. As I said, I take it as intro and then I can dig deeper on my own when I have time and want to understand something deeper.

That's fine, but to "know" physics is something which requires a long and painful process. If that's all your goal is, then that's fine, but for someone who wants to actually understand and learn physics, they'll find that no matter how closely they pay attention to those lectures that when put to the test they actually understood or absorbed very little of it.

I disagree. Why does it have to be all or nothing? There is something inbetween. There is another pace, I have the rest of my life. Your attitude is bit arrogant in saying that what I see and read 'is not physics'. Makes me smile. Maybe your pissedoff at having to rush through it in college and work really hard?
 
  • #28
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You seem to be really polarized. I agree there's a high degree of entertainment if you like his style, but I've learned a lot. As I said, I take it as intro and then I can dig deeper on my own when I have time and want to understand something deeper.

I disagree. Why does it have to be all or nothing? There is something inbetween. There is another pace, I have the rest of my life. Your attitude is bit arrogant in saying that what I see and read 'is not physics'. Makes me smile. Maybe your pissedoff at having to rush through it in college and work really hard?

You can't really learn physics or mathematics only by watching video lectures. You actually need to work through a book and work through exercises.

That said, video lectures are great supplements. It's always nice to hear an expert speaking on something you're learning. It can be extremely illuminating. The key however is not to rely only on the video lectures, but to actually treat it as a second resource. Your first resource should always be a decent textbook.
 
  • #29
You can't really learn physics or mathematics only by watching video lectures. You actually need to work through a book and work through exercises.

Yes, have I said otherwise? But the OP's question was about the lectures. I was just saying that they have value. And I'm also saying that there is a different way of going it. You guys were probably doing physics 12+ hours a day for 5 years or something to learn this stuff. Fine. I'm going to do it in 50 years. But it's still physics and mathematics.
 
  • #30
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You seem to be really polarized. I agree there's a high degree of entertainment if you like his style, but I've learned a lot. As I said, I take it as intro and then I can dig deeper on my own when I have time and want to understand something deeper.



I disagree. Why does it have to be all or nothing? There is something inbetween. There is another pace, I have the rest of my life. Your attitude is bit arrogant in saying that what I see and read 'is not physics'. Makes me smile. Maybe your pissedoff at having to rush through it in college and work really hard?

No it's not about arrogance or being "pissed off", I've just had enough experience of thinking I knew or understood something, only to be put to the fire and realize I actually didn't understand it all that well or even at all. Understanding physics means you can do calculations and solve situations you haven't encountered before, it's different from just reciting facts like you might in geography or something. I guess you're using the word "learn" and "understand" in a different way than a serious physics student would, which is fine, but you should at least concede that what you're getting from those videos is just the very thinnest surface of what is an ocean of knowledge.

I agree that they can be used as supplements, but only when the knowledge first came through proper study with a book and practice problems. However, this thread was about the value of the videos by themselves, and by themselves I think they're mostly useless.
 
  • #31
MarneMath
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I don't think the user you are replying intended to imply a mastery of material that would be on the level of a full time student taking a physics course or a professional. A person can learn something from varying degrees and just because the person didn't learn the material in a deep and 'meaningful' matter or can't extend results, doesn't mean the person didn't learn anything.

To give a trivial example, I'm fairly confident that I can show the power rule of derivatives to a modest high school student in 10 minute video. I'm fairly confident that student would be able to apply that rule over and over again. I'm also fairly confident that that same student (assuming no familiarity with limits) would be able to explain why it's important, why the reason is true, and falsely apply it to something like tan^2[x]. Nevertheless, to say the student learn nothing is bit ridiculously, and that's initially what Frederic is saying.

The simple fact is that I can watch ANY physics video and learn SOMETHING. Simply because I know so little about the material. I have NO intent to become an expert, nor any desire to get into the deepest topic, but surely, I can get a 'feel' for what the topic is about by listening to people talk about it. I think about curling, I have no idea how to play that 'sport' or the 'techniques' but from watching it, I can pick up some detail about it, even if I don't completely understand it.

On a related note, can someone explain curling to me?

Edit: I also felt like adding this. I don't think learning should ever be considered an isolated event. I believe the key to good learning is

1)Have a great textbook
2)The access to someone who knows the material.
3)Interaction with peers that are learning the material too.

What is great about this website is that contains 2 out of the 3 things I've listed. (Although you can say it contains all three if you consider textbooks written by a member.) A good book with a student who hasn't learn to self-study is essentially worthless. A good teacher with a student with no motivation is to learn is worthless. Motivated peer group is pointless if you exclude yourself from the group. If you a student wants to have eventual masterly of a material, I believe it needs to be a consistent effort of going to different sources and asking questions. Expecting one sources to teach you everything is expecting too much from anyone or anything. Heck, even in a college course, self-study is often needed.
 
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  • #32
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Well we can argue endlessly about semantics, but if a student mindlessly applied the power rule over and over again, then how can you say they learned anything? Isn't learning more about understanding than it is about possession of knowledge? Also I never claimed you learn nothing from videos, but from a practical standpoint they're useless by themselves for all but the most fleeting and superficial of understanding. If that's all you want, then fine, but let's not pretend you're going to be able to read and understand real physics after spending a few hours with Lenny on youtube.

I also disagree with you about the curly analogy. Watching someone else do something is never the same as doing it yourself. You can watch some guy do downhill mountain bike racing for example, and that will not give you any clue what it's like to actually do it. True learning always has to come from doing things yourself. If some guy is so smart that he can watch a youtube video and learn physics, then he's just smart enough to do it in his head, but he still had to do it.
 
  • #33
WannabeNewton
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There are lecture videos out there starring brilliant/skilled lecturers that are absolutely invaluable. In my experience these include (off of the top of my head) the MIT OCW intro physics lectures, the Berkeley comp sci lectures, the aforementioned QM lectures, and David Tong's QFT lectures. You can't compare, in any fair manner, the Susskind lectures to the aforementioned lectures because it serves a very different purpose-it's just there to give a general overview of things; note however that they are not made for just any layman as he goes into the mathematics behind the theory.

Other than that, I'd have to agree with dipole. If you want to learn physics then certainly it won't be enough.
 
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  • #34
MarneMath
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Regarding my curling example, I wasn't aiming to say that I can learn how to actually do what-ever they do in curling. But surely I can learn their intent and how to win, even if I can't do the techniques and win. For a lot of people, physics is the same way. I'll never take quantum mechanics class, but I can read a book and see how those concepts can be applied to problems. For me that's enough. Maybe you and others want and need to learn how to actually apply the physics to the problems, but I don't. I just have enough interest to read that it can be done and probably pick up some general idea how it may be done and that's ok for me. Thus, I learned about how quantum mechanics can be useful.

What Fred is saying is that there is a value for some people to just watch and soak up the information and get that information. For some people, the superficial understanding is all that is needed and if they have interest in it should spend the time to gather the proper resources to learn more about it, but I think it's uncalled for to criticize someone for finding value in the superficial understanding. It's like the time I had to rebuild my engine. Before that week, I just had a superficial understanding on how a car engine worked. It wasn't until I needed to sit down and rebuild it that I bothered to actually learn more specifics about it. Even now that I know how to rebuild it, i'm sure my knowledge on how it all works is superficial compared to an engineer or even an auto mechanic, but I don't think of my knowledge as meaningless :).
 
  • #35
collinsmark
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I agree that they can be used as supplements, but only when the knowledge first came through proper study with a book and practice problems.

My goodness no! :bugeye: It's the other way around! The Susskind lectures are excellent introduction before you pick up the particular chapter in your book and work through the practice problems.

Most people (from this point on I will refer to the subset of most people that have a desire to learn physics as "we") don't have the opportunity to enroll in a university class, complete with a live professor. But we still want to learn physics. Yes, we can purchase textbooks, read them, and work out all the practice problems as we go. But what is missing is the classroom lecture. That's where videos such as the Susskind lectures are valuable. The Susskind lectures were intended for that very purpose: "continuing education" -- education for people who don't want to get a degree in physics, but still want to learn it for the love of it.

I don't know if you've seen any of the Susskind lectures, but they are not fluff. They are complete with the mathematics: triple integrals, differential equations, tensor algebra (generalized coordinates), Riemann manifolds, the works.

Are they all that is necessary to learn the material? Of course not. If you want to really learn (and retain) the material buy a textbook and work out the practice problems. But are the lectures then useless? No. Of course not. Saying the Susskind lectures are useless is like saying, "yeah, I enrolled in university classes, but I always skip class because the lectures are useless."

On a related note, can someone explain curling to me?

This video, although biased to the USA, does a fairly good job explaining the game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxCH8CGqx88
 
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  • #36
My goodness no! :bugeye: It's the other way around! The Susskind lectures are excellent introduction before you pick up the particular chapter in your book and work through the practice problems.

Excactly.
 
  • #37
George Jones
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On a related note, can someone explain curling to me?

Yes, a couple of guys I know, Mark Shegelski and Erik Jensen, can explain the physics of curling.

Shegelski, M.R., Niebergall, R. and Watton, M.A. (1996) The motion of
a curling rock. Canadian Journal of Physics 74, 663-670.

Jensen, E.T. and Shegelski, M.R.A. (2004) The motion of curling rocks:
experimental investigation and semi-phenominological description.
Canadian Journal of Physics 82(10), 791-809.
 

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