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Intro Physics Why are the Feynman lectures not good for beginners?

  1. May 31, 2017 #1
    Is it because it is more rigorous than books like Halliday and Resnick? Or maybe you need to digest those books as a prerequisite for the feynman lectures? Or maybe people don't believe a regular person could digest the feynman lectures as a introductory level physics book? If someone is a beginner looking for a challenge on physics, would it be best just to read feynman, and to also do the exercises for the FLP? Thanks, your help is appreciated.
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  3. Jun 1, 2017 #2


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    H&R is like high-school physics + calculus. The idea of H&R is to make physics as simple as possible (but not simpler than that), to make physics straightforward and pedestrian. As such, it is suitable not only for future physicists, but also engineers and all others who need some college level physics.

    Feynman, on the other hand, is much deeper. It tries to teach you not only how to use physics, but how to think like a physicist. It prepares you for a future scientist who will one day discover new fundamental results in physics. As such, it is suitable only to physics majors.
  4. Jun 1, 2017 #3
    Thanks, I'll take feynman over H and R now.
  5. Jun 1, 2017 #4


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    You should read Feynman's preface. He describes the type of students his course was targeting. The vast majority of students, even those majoring in physics, do not fall in that category, so his lectures wouldn't be a particularly good fit for an intro physics course.

    Feynman's own assessment about the course was, "The question, of course, is how well this experiment has succeeded. My own point of view—which, however, does not seem to be shared by most of the people who worked with the students—is pessimistic. I don’t think I did very well by the students. When I look at the way the majority of the students handled the problems on the examinations, I think that the system is a failure."
  6. Jun 2, 2017 #5


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    Well, Feynman seems to be too pessimistic in this point. I met some physicist colleagues who had the luck to attend Feynman's lectures, and they still are very enthusiastic about them. Feynman must have been a brillant lecturer. You can get a glimpse on Youtube, where you find many of his popular-science lectures, and even these are just addicting. Usually I'm not so keen on popular-science features, but Feynman was a true artist in the sense that he presented the material "as simple as possible but not simpler" (Einstein).

    The Feynman Lecture books are, of course, also a gem. They are full of physical insights, treating everything from a very concise Feynman's personal point of view. Perhaps that's why it's considered wise to study a more conventional treatment besides the Feynman books.
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