The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Commemorative Issue, Three Volume Set Later Printing Edition
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- Publisher : Addison Wesley; Later Printing edition (January 1, 1989)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 1552 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0201500647
- ISBN-13 : 978-0201500646
- Item Weight : 10.17 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.1 x 3.3 x 11.8 inches
- Customer Reviews:
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OK, I'll admit I spent 35 years developing system software and I have a life long love of math and science, but I think these lectures are accessible to anyone who wants to actually understand what physics is all about. Dr. Feynman is able to present the concepts in a way that gets past the "here's the formula, memorize it" approach that many introductory presentations have been reduced to. If you persist, you will be rewarded with an understanding of how all those odd sounding bits fit together and at least some idea of how it all works.
Taking on these three volumes is a daunting task, but if you truly want to grasp this material, you won't find a shorter or easier path to getting there. You can read all kinds of popularizations relating to the voodoo of quantum mechanics, the time twisting of relativity, and the unfathomability of the smallest and the largest scales of the universe, but if you want to glimpse the reality behind the magic you need to recognize that a lot of very, very smart people have spent the past few hundred years sorting it out. The fact that all this can be made comprehensible to us mere mortals at all is a major accomplishment.
That said, these are real physics books, so don't bother if you are looking for a superficial understanding. If you already know physics you can probably breeze through the books pretty easily getting a lot of nice insights, but otherwise you need to be prepared to work hard. Also, as a self-teaching tool, these books are incomplete, since they contain no problems, and actually don't prepare you very well to do problems (unless, perhaps, you are as smart as Feynman). For that you probably need a more conventional physics text. I used "Theoretical Physics" by Georg Joos, which is available from Dover (and can be ordered here) because it has lots of problems with complete solutions in the back of the book, but there are many other good, more pedestrian, physics texts to supplement FLP.
If what you want is something lighter, I highly recommend "The Character of Physical Law". You'll learn something and it won't hurt so much. (I also recommend that you see the movies if you possibly can. He was amazing in front of an audience.)
1. You are a student who has already taken university calculus based physics and are interested in another view of the subject by one of the modern masters of physics
2.. You are a professional who is reading the texts for intellectual stimulation; e.g., you are a curious engineer (Really,
anyone who has taken the standard university calculus sequence through multivariable calculus can tackle the material in these books)
3. You are taking university physics and want to use these books for additional readings to understand important concepts and the big picture
If you are planning to use these books as your primary textbook source to learn the basics of physics, I agree with the comments that Feynman made in the preface that these lectures were a failure. Better calculus-based textbooks such as the 2nd edition of Halliday and
Resnick Fundamental of Physics already exist that cover the standard freshman calculus-based physics faire. However, the Feynman lectures are great to flip through, scan, skip around, read a page here and there. There are amazing deep insights sprinkled throughout.
The serious student of physics or engineering should try and dig up the 3 volume MIT physics series by French (Newtonian Mechanics, Vibrations, Special Relativity) and the 5 volume Berkeley Physics Course (BPC) to seek a deep and mathematically rigorous introduction to
physics. BPC Volume 2 on E&M by Purcell is still in print and still in use but the other volumes on Mechanics, Waves, Quantum, and Statistical Physics are harder to find.
The absolute beginner should immediately invest in Physics for the Inquiring Mind by Rogers (1960) and An Introduction to the Meaning and Structure of Physics by Cooper (1968). Cooper won the nobel prize in physics and is an excellent writer.
These books would serve as excellent volumes to read before Feynman.
If you aren't that familiar with Feynman, start with Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman. I read that book over and over until I almost have it memorized, funny, profound, and beautiful book. Then Six Easy Pieces presents a few of the less mathematical and more easily understandable lectures. Then for the meat, come here, you won't be disappointed unless you are preparing for a sophomore physics examination.