Jun

6

FeynmanWhy are there tides? How do the planets move? Just a couple questions you will get the answers to in the first of Feynman's wonderful lectures

Prof. Richard Feynman gave a series of lectures on physics at Cornell in 1964, which are called the Messenger lectures. They are now available free on the web courtesy of Bill Gates. Very engaging, only a few equations (at least in the first one that I have watched), so suitable for a general audience teen or older. (These are different than the Feynman lectures on physics, which are a three volume book set with all the equations based on the physics course he taught freshman at CalTech).

For those unfamiliar with Feynman, he played the bongos, drew nude art, enjoyed safecracking, helped create the atomic bomb at Los Alamos as part of the Manhattan Project, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, and was revered as a teacher of physics.

Chris Cooper comments:

Feynman taught Physics 1 and 2 only for the two years it took to complete the series of lectures which became the three-book text for those courses in the following years when I took them. I still have my copies because even at that age I realized that they were something special. As a senior, star-struck, I took an advanced course in quantum mechanics from Prof. Feynman. Although we had two texts to cover the subject, I was amazed to come to class and watch him explain the topic of the day from an entirely different angle, time after time. That was the class where I best learned my most important lesson– the people who do this are really smart, smarter than I, and they also work much harder than I was willing to. I flunked miserably, confirming my abandonment of dreams of a career in high-energy physics. In retrospect, Prof. Feynman ended up teaching me the most important lesson that I needed to learn at that time, though he never even knew who I was.


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